Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson believes Logan Sargeant’s qualifying crash in Japan is “masking his steady performance” gains recently.
Sargeant has endured a challenging rookie Formula 1 campaign and is the only driver to have competed in every race this season yet to pick up a point across the first 16 races.
While Alex Albon has single-handedly spearheaded Williams’ rise to seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship, Sargeant has regularly lagged behind the sister car.
The American newcomer is yet to beat his team-mate in a competitive session, and Sargeant’s seat is the only remaining one on next year’s grid still to be confirmed.
Sargeant sustained another confidence-sapping crash on his maiden trip to Suzuka last weekend, smashing into the barriers at the final corner in Q1 in a repeat of the incident ex-Williams driver Robert Kubica suffered four years previously.
However, Robson asserts that the high-speed shunt overshadowed Sargeant’s growing improvement, having been building up a promising weekend to that point.
“I guess inevitably, they catch the headlines, don’t they?,” Robson said via Autosport.
“I think it has kind of masked his steady performance and this weekend was actually going really well.
“It is such a difficult circuit to come to and he went about it really well on Friday, built on that on Saturday, and then lost it in the very last corner of the first lap … and really, it was quite a minor mistake.
“It’s just at that corner once you touch the grass, you’re in a whole heap of trouble and it was a real shame.
“But yeah, I think it is fair that the crashes since Zandvoort have masked what otherwise has clearly been some steady improvement.”
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C43 is hit by Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW45. 24.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day.
Sargeant had clumsily gone straight into a barrier and damaged his front wing midway through the Singapore Grand Prix the previous weekend and then crashed into the side of Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo in the early stages of Sunday’s race in Japan.
With Sargeant having consistently received Williams’ latest upgrade packages after Albon, Robson warns that further crash damage could see him fall further behind on being equipped with new updates.
“To some extent, you end up having to drop back on specs, because for all of the long lead items and then having to ship them around the world, it’s already too late to make more new ones, really. Even if you had the money and the time to do it,” he explained.
However, Robson has downplayed that Sargeant’s recent spate of incidents will hamper Williams’ development budget.
When asked about that prospect, he responded: “It probably won’t affect next year too much, because I think we’ve got enough parts.
“It just becomes a bit of a logistical exercise. How many do we want to actually ship out at the circuit? What do we send on to the next? What do we send back to the UK?
“And so I don’t think there’s too much panic. We’ll need to get that chassis repaired, which will consume a little bit of time at the factory. But otherwise, we’ve got enough bits around this that we can carry on.”
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