James Vowles gave his full backing to his embattled Williams rookie Logan Sargeant after the American suffered another difficult weekend at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.
Sargeant hit the wall in qualifying at Suzuka before clouting Valtteri Bottas in the race and retiring with collision damage, fuelling the rumours that he’ll be replaced at the end of 2023.
Mick Schumacher, Felipe Drugovich and Liam Lawson have all been linked to the seat but Williams aren’t considering any other drivers according to Vowles.
“Logan has very clear targets of what he has to hit before the end of the season, and we are working with him continuously,” Vowles told Williams‘ website. “And that’s the important point, we are working with him. We want him to succeed, and we want him in the car next year, he is on a journey with us as Williams.
“We have a young driver programme that we will continue to invest in. And only at the point where all of us come to the conclusion that we have reached the end of that road will we make any decisions, but we are nowhere near that yet.”
The Suzuka crash was even worse because it came just a week after Sargeant also suffered a heavy hit qualifying for the Singapore GP.
Vowles warned his driver that his mounting bill will affect the team’s preparation for 2024, but added there were extenuating circumstances to his Japanese struggles.
“There were some very positive signs to take out. First and foremost, Logan is not on the same aerodynamic specific as Alex was. We have updates that are on Alex’s car that are not on Logan‘s, due to the amount of attrition we have had this year.
“So, often when you see a performance offset it is not quite what it may seem on the timing pages. Furthermore, to that, if you look at the case of Suzuka, he did a build up across the weekend, as he went into FP3, he did a time that matched Alex.”
Vowles: This is on Williams too
Vowles added Williams must take some blame for Sargeant‘s struggles. The team promoted Sargeant for 2023 a year ahead of schedule, after just a year in F2 where he finished fourth.
Jost Capito, Vowles‘ predecessor as Williams team principal, recently said that the team must take the pressure off their young driver, to allow him to get comfortable in the car.
And if Vowles‘ latest comments are anything to go by, they plan on doing just that.
“This is very much on us as well,” Vowles added. “We have taken someone straight from Formula 2, without any significant testing, put him a day and half in Bahrain in this car, and then wished them well on a season that has been awfully challenging for rookies, full stop.”