James Vowles grilled on ‘damaging’ Logan Sargeant call in spiky Ted Kravitz interview

Michelle Foster
James Vowles faces the media

James Vowles faces the media

James Vowles admits his decision to give Alex Albon Logan Sargeant’s car not only hurt the American driver, but it may not be the last time as Williams still won’t have a spare chassis available in Japan.

After Albon crashed in Friday’s opening practice at the Albert Park circuit, causing half a million dollars worth of damage, Williams made the controversial call to give him Sargeant’s car from FP3 onwards.

Ted Kravitz grilled James Vowles: ‘Is it really worth it?’

Realising they did not have the parts needed to repair Albon’s car, notably a spare chassis, Vowles says he based his decision on which driver he believes has the better chance of scoring points for the team.

Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz grilled Vowles in the Albert Park paddock on Saturday morning, asking if the potential damage was worth a point.

“For the benefit of maybe, maybe one point, if nothing happens to the RBs or anything like that, to hurt Logan’s confidence and his credibility, to undermine your decision to keep him for this year anyway, to maybe damage your relationship with your US owners and your US sponsors, and maybe damage your relationship with the fans as well, who many don’t think this a fair decision, is it really worth it?” quizzed the pit lane reporter.

“I wouldn’t have made this decision if it wasn’t, Ted,” Vowles replied. “We hurt an individual whose job it is to perform [at] the highest level, and anything that stops you from that puts you on the back foot, there’s no doubt about it.

“You were talking about one point, one point being nearly nothing or meaning to thing…”

Kravitz jumped in: “No, I just said you maybe might score one point. I’d never say one point is not big.”

Vowles responded: “In that situation, even the probability of scoring a point is what’s important to me at the moment. I have hard decisions to make and mine is for the wellbeing of this organisation as a whole. And that is I’ll do everything it takes to score the point if it is available to us.”

Pressed as to why he “decided to completely sacrifice Logan”, the former Mercedes man said: “Logan did nothing wrong, he hasn’t put a foot wrong. But points are only allocated for the top ten cars and right now P6 to P10 is one point that was scored by Haas.

“And at the end of the season, I think a point or two would differentiate championship positions. As a result with just one car I have to put my best foot forward, and across the year Alex has had the leading edge over Logan in every event. And with just one car you put your best statistical chance of scoring a point in because every point will make a difference.”

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Williams’ third chassis pushed back ‘beyond here’

Worryingly for Sargeant, Williams’ chassis issue is unlikely to be resolved before round five of the season, the Chinese Grand Prix.

With Kravitz telling Vowles the team’s failure to bring a spare chassis is “your responsibility, you’re team boss, that’s on you”, Vowles responded: “You’re right. We are an organisation that is pretty much going through a transformation from where we have been. We are clearly nowhere near where we want to be, and I’ve been brutally honest about that from the outset.”

Although the plan was to have three chassis from the very first race in Bahrain, he explained that the complex nature of the chassis technology meant ultimately Williams found it “more and more difficult to get two cars to Bahrain with enough spares that could go running.

“At some point, you have to make decisions, do you sacrifice spares, do you sacrifice spare chassis? And the chassis is what we pushed back.

“Originally planned for round three, still you’re playing the fire because that’s two rounds that you could be without a chassis, and then due to further problems and further delays, it got pushed back beyond here.”

Williams still won’t have a spare ready for the next race, the Japanese Grand Prix, with reports they’re instead focusing on repairing Albon’s.

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