Williams boss explains brutal Logan Sargeant axe as ‘never’ again vow made

Jamie Woodhouse
Logan Sargeant's Williams garage sits empty at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Logan Sargeant's Williams garage sits empty.

Williams team boss James Vowles said the decision to hand over Logan Sargeant’s FW46 to Alex Albon for the rest of the Australian GP after the latter’s crash is “one of the hardest” decisions yet as principal, but the team must come first.

Albon suffered a major shunt during the opening practice session at Albert Park, one which he thankfully walked away from unscathed, though the same could not be said for his Williams challenger.

James Vowles: Williams can ‘never’ be without spare chassis again

With Albon’s Williams chassis broken beyond repair at the track, while Vowles revealed that the gearbox and Mercedes power unit were severely damaged too, the fact that Williams did not bring a spare chassis with them to the Australian Grand Prix meant Vowles had a huge decision to make. Ultimately, Albon was selected to continue the race weekend with Sargeant sidelined.

It was far from an easy decision for Vowles to make, but in the incredibly tight battle for points, he stressed that Williams had to go with the driver who they felt gave them the best opportunities in Albon, while Vowles said that Williams can “never” allow themselves to end up in this situation again.

“We had high hopes coming into this event,” Vowles began. “Last year in Melbourne, we had a competitive package, but we didn’t deliver in terms of points. This year, we know that we have a well-balanced package and a good foundation to work from.

“And indeed, in the first few laps of FP1, everything looked to be in a very positive situation with the cars able to be around that top-10 region.

“As we fitted the soft tyres to Alex for his fast-lap, he hit the kerb at Turn 6. As he landed, it landed poorly and is speared him off into the wall.

“The damage was extensive. The gearbox is split in two, the power unit has significant damage to it and the chassis was damaged beyond repair at the track on the front-right corner.

“The main thing for me is that Alex is okay after that incident. It was a huge accident. You will see perhaps on TV, just the amount of debris spread across the track and always in those circumstances, driver’s health comes first and he is okay.

“However, and this is the downside to things, we don’t have a spare chassis here in Melbourne with us.

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“As a result of the work that took place across the winter, we stressed the organisation to the absolute limits. We pushed everything as far as it could do. And what it meant as a result of that is off the back end of being very late on some of the production, the spare chassis starts to move backwards.

“No team plans to come to an event without a spare chassis. In doing so you create risk. In the absolute best case, it’s uncomfortable and in the worst case, one of the cars is not racing. And that’s the situation we face today.

“We have to ensure that we never, ever put ourselves in that situation again going forward in the future. We’re here to go racing and to only have one car here on Saturday and Sunday, simply isn’t what we’re built to do.

“I’ve made the decision for Logan not to be racing this weekend and for Alex to take the chassis and continue on behalf of Williams Racing on Saturday and Sunday. It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve made so far whilst here in this organisation.

“The midfield is so incredibly tight that a point or two or more may make the difference at the end of the season between being tenth or being sixth. The spread of our cars at the moment is milliseconds. And as much as it pains me to see a driver that – through no fault of their own – won’t be racing on Sunday, I have to prioritise the team above all else.

“Logan has been tremendous. He’s here to support the team in this regard. He’s clearly very much hurting as a result of this decision, but equally strong in as much as he knows the team above all else is the priority.

“What I can say is this, the chassis will be back in the UK as quick as we can possibly make it and will be repaired such that we’re able to race again in Japan with two cars.”

Williams are yet to put a point on the board in F1 2024 going into Round 3 in Australia.

Read next: Williams say they believe in Logan Sargeant, giving his car to Alex Albon proves they don’t