James Vowles said Logan Sargeant must shrink the gap to Alex Albon if he hopes to keep hold of his Williams seat.
The American is the sole driver to have raced every grand prix so far in 2023 and not scored a point but the true test of his ability has come up against his team-mate.
In the team-mate standings, it is advantage Albon who has qualified ahead of Sargeant at every race and finished ahead of him in the grand prix on eight occasions.
Williams expect Logan Sargeant to close the gap over time
While it seems Sargeant is not under pressure in terms of his race seat come 2024, team boss Vowles has set out some targets for him to achieve.
The former Mercedes man said he expects the gap between the two drivers to “remain the same and shrink over time” if he is to have a future in F1.
“It’s ultimately… Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport,” he told media including PlanetF1.com ahead of Zandvoort. “It’s a fierce competition. It’s a meritocracy. You have to earn your place there.
“He has to keep developing and moving forward. It needs improvements on consistency, which I’ve said through the season. The gap to Alex needs to remain the same and shrink over time. If we take a step back, we’ve put Logan in a situation where he came straight out of F2, had a day and a half of testing… Good luck, you’re a Formula 1 driver.
“And, I think, when I reflect on this year, this is probably more difficult than any other year I’ve been in the sport for throwing someone in at the deep end and allowing them the time to catch-up. We didn’t do any running in previous Williams cars, that was it. His time here is his time here.
“There’s elements where he keeps growing and finding performance and improvements, and performance under pressure. That’s what we’re looking for. The rate of learning has to increase now. He’s aware of all of that, and I think he has a huge maturity beyond his years. He knows that in front of him is a career and a journey that’s within his power to control. And our job is to support him on that journey rather than punish him.”
Formula 1 has become increasingly demanding with a record number of races but also different formats such as ATA qualifying and the sprint. For that reason, Vowles believes it is harder than ever to be a rookie.
“On reflection, and I didn’t realise this in January, but on reflection, now that I have Logan as a part of the team, you look back as to how we are now with an ATA format, sprint race format, wet weather as well, appearing pretty much most weekends and you’re in a situation where their learning cycle is significantly reduced, relative to what I knew five, 10, 15 years ago.
“I think it’s probably worthy of a rethink at certain levels as to what we can do to help drivers in that circumstance – because ultimately, we will get ourselves into a position where we are not adding new drivers at the rate we want to – or you have to give them so long in the car that you’ll compromise your performance.”