Formula 1 rookie Logan Sargeant admitted he and his Williams colleagues were surprised by their performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix, after being convinced they would begin the season as the slowest team on the grid.
The iconic British outfit have struggled for form in recent years, regularly propping up the field, but picked up a point under the lights in Sakhir courtesy of Alex Albon‘s excellent recovery drive from 15th to 10th.
Sargeant agonisingly missed out on Q2 on his debut despite setting the same time as 15th-placed Lando Norris in Q1.
However, from 16th on the grid, he recovered come race day, enjoying a stunning first lap before coming home respectably in 12th.
“I loved every single second of my first F1 race weekend,” Sargeant wrote in his column for Formula1.com. “If you had given me that sort of weekend before it had happened, I would have said yes to it.
“To have a smooth race, from the pit stops to the Virtual Safety Car, and finish 12th gives me a good baseline to work with.
“I still wish I could have made Q2, that was a bit of a missed opportunity. I clocked the exact same lap time as Lando Norris in 15th but as I set the time after him, I slotted in behind him and was knocked out.
“I feel like I didn’t quite have the right approach going into qualifying. Our car was good enough to make Q2. That’s a mental approach I need to shift a little bit.
“Overall, the weekend went as good as we could have hoped for from my perspective. The team outperformed what they were expecting as well.
“Going into the weekend, we thought we would be the slowest team so to see Alex get a point and for us to both be quick in qualifying, it gives us motivation that there’s some good promise in the team and some good foundations to build on.”
‘Vowles has brought new energy’
Not only do Williams have a new driver in 2023, but they also have a new team principal in former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles.
Vowles took over from Jost Capito, who announced his surprise departure at the end of the 2022 season.
It’s early days in their relationship, but Sargeant heaped praise on the 43-year-old for the atmosphere he’s already been able to create.
“It’s been awesome getting to know our new Team Principal James Vowles, who only started a few weeks ago,” Sargeant added.
“He has brought this new energy into the team. I only met him for the first time at the test, but he’s been super helpful and gave me a lot of advice through the first weekend.
“From what I can tell, he’s fit into the team extremely well. Hopefully we can continue that growth together.”
F1 returns with the Saudi Arabian GP from March 17-19.