Motorsport’s most ‘sadistic’ trait now hitting F1’s under-pressure driver

Michelle Foster
Williams driver Logan Sargeant at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah, March 2023.

Logan Sargeant is under pressure to perform.

In a sport in which you’re only as good as your last performance, Logan Sargeant is suffering under Formula 1’s “most sadistic” but “kind of the best” trait according to the On Track GP pundits.

Promoted to Formula 1 on the back of Nicholas Latifi’s Williams exit, Sargeant has had a torrid time with the American yet to get off the mark in 16 races.

With pressure mounting, so too have the mistakes with the rookie’s latest errors including not one but two crashes at the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Logan Sargeant seeing the dark side of a ‘brutal industry’

That’s led to calls from outside of Williams for the 22-year-old to be replaced, with many a pundit and fan keen to see Liam Lawson in next year’s FW46.

However, Williams team boss James Vowles has made it clear the team is supporting Sargeant and will continue to help him achieve the targets needed to retain his seat.

The good news for Sargeant is that all he needs is one good race, and a points-scoring finish, and the tide of public opinion is likely to turn.

“The kind of best thing about sport in general, as well as the most sadistic thing, is you’re only as good as your last performance,” Matthew Howson, an LMP2 winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, told the On Track GP podcast.

“So you could have won everything on the way at the junior formula but if you have one shaky year before your potential avenue into F1 then your career in F1 especially is finished.”

Howson’s former team-mate Richard Bradley says Sargeant is experiencing this today with his street credibility taking a hit despite his “epic” performances in the junior ranks.

“I think we’re seeing a little bit of that at the minute with Logan Sargeant,” he said. “He was epic through the junior categories, extremely highly-rated, and did some incredible things that he shouldn’t have been doing.

“And you know, against Lawson last year, he was very, very similar.

“And he’s gone into Formula One, and it’s just not worked for him. Now at least on the outside, without talking to the teams, his street credibility has dropped significantly because of this.

“And that’s just how brutal the industry is.”

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Talent spotting for ‘aliens’ and ‘X factor’

Although three rookies lined up at the beginning of this season only two remain, Sargeant and Oscar Piastri. Only one though, is shining.

It begs the question of what exactly are teams looking for when it comes to Formula 1 talent spotting.

Howson says it’s the “alien” or “X factor”, telling the On Track GP podcast that “these are the standouts and what makes an alien or what makes someone that bit special. It just means that they go against convention.

“So in other words any driver can be really talented. And after three, four, or five years they can win a championship, but it’s those ones that turn up and they do something they shouldn’t like immediately go faster than the established drivers in a given formula.

“This is always very clear that there’s no excuses there then, they’re literally turning up. You can’t explain it because they’ve done more mileage or because they’re older, more experienced, they’re just doing it on pure talent.

“Kimi Raikkonen, it was like this when he arrived in Formula Renault, equal cars, and he was winning those races by 20 seconds. That just shouldn’t happen.

“You know, when for example [Charles] Leclerc, George Russell, all these guys did their junior category, they won F3 or F2 in their first years. So these are the things.

“At the moment we’ve got Piastri, we’ve got Lawson, and Alex Palou. These are the guys that are just kind of doing things they shouldn’t. And this is what those F1 teams will be very well aware of.

“In a kind of a cutthroat industry, with drivers that have won all the championships, they will look at how long it’s taken them to do it.”

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