‘Can’t suddenly become Max Verstappen’ – Damon Hill offers crucial advice to F1 2024 struggler

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen smiles on the podium at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix

Max Verstappen has held a near-monopoly on the top step of the podium since F1's switch to ground effect regulations.

While 1996 World Champion Damon Hill has advised Logan Sargeant to not think he can suddenly be Max Verstappen and instead build himself up corner by corner, Pedro de la Rosa feels the Williams driver needs to be cut some slack.

After a troubled rookie season, Williams boss James Vowles kept his faith in Sargeant by retaining him for F1 2024. However, that breakthrough in performance for the American racer is still lacking, while the mistakes crucially also have not dried up.

Logan Sargeant told ‘can’t suddenly become Max Verstappen’

It was Williams team-mate Alex Albon doing the damage in Australia, with Williams handing Sargeant’s car to Albon for the rest of the weekend after the Thai driver crashed in FP1. That left Sargeant sidelined for the rest of the race weekend as Williams do not have a spare chassis, but his return to action at Suzuka brought about a fresh shunt.

While this time thankfully no chassis were hurt in Sargeant’s FP1 shunt, it did put further unwelcomed strain on the Williams budget, with Hill sensing that crash came about due to “panic” from Sargeant, as he advised him to adopt a corner-by-corner mindset, rather than looking to suddenly become the Williams version of F1’s dominant force Verstappen.

Speaking about Sargeant on the F1 Nation podcast, Hill said: “There’s only so much you can do. There’s things you can affect and things you can’t affect. And the things you can affect, obviously, are the things you need to put all your focus on. And that means driving.

“I think that his crash at Suzuka was a sign that he felt he had to do something brilliant as soon as possible. And I think that the panic should not set in, you need to keep a cool head to say, ‘Listen, there’s only so much you can do’.

“And you have to drive a little bit within yourself. You can’t suddenly become Max Verstappen in one mighty leap, you have to know yourself.

“So if he just does a good solid job in whatever race he comes up against, and just puts all the rest of it out of his head, because there’s nothing he can do about it anyway, then we’ll see what happens.

“It’s almost like you’ve just got to take everything corner by corner, literally, all that matters is doing each corner right.

“You join them all up together and the lap will be better and then you’ve got a better lap and then you go out again and you’ve got that as your foundation. You can break it down into making it very, very simple, rather than complicated.”

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Former F1 driver and now Aston Martin ambassador Pedro de la Rosa also had some advice to hand out to Sargeant, as he urged him to work hard and keep his spirits up, though he also believes that any criticism needs to be kept in perspective, as Albon is hardly clear of blame when it comes to Williams driver crashes in F1 2024.

Sargeant was able to avoid the barriers in a further trip through the gravel on race day at Suzuka.

“My best advice would be work hard, do a lot of simulator days in the factory, make sure that there’s no wheel unturned from his side and also remind him that not all the mistakes have been done by him,” said De la Rosa.

“Let’s not forget that the crash in Australia was Alex Albon that crashed the car, destroyed the car.

“We are seeing many crashes from Williams drivers, some unfortunate. We’re just focusing on Logan Sargeant, but come on man, I think we have to give him a break as well. It’s not only him there.

“There’s been mistakes, some unfortunate racing incidents like Suzuka, which can happen, and just work hard, keep doing what you’re doing, make sure that not because you are feeling unhappy or depressed that at one point you start not working as hard, because it’s very difficult to keep pushing yourself every morning if things are not going your way.

“I’m pretty sure he will turn the wheel [sic].”

Albon has scored 27 of the 28 points claimed so far by the Albon-Sargeant Williams driver pairing.

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