After an inspired start in Bahrain, America’s newest Formula One star Logan Sargeant is setting himself up for his second race in Saudi Arabia.
The former World Karting Champion and Carlin F2 driver has settled in nicely with UK-based Williams Racing, scoring a P12 finish – far better than expected – in his debut race earlier this month.
Moreover, he beat out the other two rookie drivers making debuts for their teams that same weekend – AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries and longtime rival and McLaren driver Oscar Piastri.
Just before he took to the streets of Jeddah for the first time, Sargeant spoke exclusively to DailyMail.com about the pressures of representing the US at the highest level, his performance in Bahrain, and what lies ahead this weekend and beyond…
Williams F1 driver Logan Sargeant spoke to DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on the Red Sea coast
In the first Grand Prix weekend, Sargeant finished just two positions outside the points in P12 – and just two spots behind Williams teammate Alex Albon.
He reached as high as P9 at one point in the race as other cars boxed, later comfortably passed de Vries after pitting for soft tires when the safety car was brought out for the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
While de Vries finished the day in P14, Piastri ended as the first car out of the race after dealing with a failure to re-start his car.
Sargeant said that Bahrain was a great start for his F1 career in a place he was familiar and that there will be a challenge for him ahead at the Saudi street circuit.
‘I think Bahrain was a great chance for me to get comfortable,’ Sargeant begins. ‘It was a track I knew well. I really did set a great foundation for myself to build off of. But you know, I expect this weekend to be very challenging.
‘It’s my first time driving an F1 car in a street circuit. It’s extremely high speed, narrow, and it bites back. So I think, you know, this weekend is going to be very much about building into it, you know, being sensible.
‘And then just, you know, really getting into a rhythm to fully go forward on Saturday evening. But yeah, I’m really looking forward to the challenge.’
In his first Grand Prix as a Formula 1 driver, Sargeant beat out his fellow rookies finishing P12
He finished just two places behind Williams teammate Alex Albon who ended up in P10
The 3.837 mile (6.175km) Jeddah Corniche Circuit has been dubbed ‘dangerous’ by last year’s Saudi GP winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull and ‘unnecessarily dangerous’ by his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
With tight turns, a skinny layout, and average speeds of 160 mph (250 kph), racing can sometimes approach what Mercedes driver Sir Lewis Hamilton has previously called a ‘danger zone’.
Sargeant has never raced at Jeddah before and believes that it will be a challenge to master at the first time of asking.
‘I definitely think it’s tough. It’s a very challenging circuit, mainly because of the high speed and if you slightly overstep, the wall is going to be there to fight back,’ he points out. ‘And this year, I’ve seen a lot of positive changes to the track. They’ve made it visually much, much better.
‘They’ve taken away a lot of the blind corners. And another thing that they’ve done great is they’ve extended the back of the exit curbs to make it less likely to bottom and lose the car.
‘So I think they have made it safer this year, but it’s a street circuit, it’s always gonna be a bit more dangerous than a normal one.’
Sargeant says that racing in Jeddah will be ‘dangerous’ but that they’ve ‘made it safer this year’
Looking beyond this weekend, Sargeant has accomplished something Formula One has been begging for over the course of eight years: an American on the grid.
It has been eight years since an American took part in a race (Alexander Rossi for Marussia at Brazil in 2015), 17 years since an American raced a full season for a team (Scott Speed for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006), and 45 years since an American won both a race and a World Driver’s Championship (Mario Andretti for John Player Team Lotus in 1978).
Recently, successful drivers have been direct replacements for Americans. After Marussia gave way to Manor Racing, Rossi was demoted to reserve driver. But after Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto was demoted for ‘failure to meet his contractual obligations’, Rossi was passed over for the seat in favor of French driver Esteban Ocon.
More notably, when Speed failed to impress at Toro Rosso, the Red Bull-backed team called in a test driver for BMW-Sauber by the name of Sebastian Vettel. The rest is history.
Sargeant says that while there may be pressure for him to perform, he doesn’t feel it from the outside.
Sargeant says he doesn’t feel any outside pressure to perform well as an American in F1
‘Obviously, my goal is to perform well, represent America well, give the fans something to cheer for, you know,’ Sargeant says. ‘Ultimately, I eventually want to be winning races for everyone back home, as well as myself.
‘But in terms of pressure, I feel like my self-expectation is already so high that, you know… I put enough pressure on myself to perform at a high level that I really don’t feel any external pressure can sort of top that.’
He adds that the pressure he feels isn’t exclusive to American drivers – who have been fighting to make inroads onto the grid for years.
‘To be honest, I think it’s, it’s the same for all drivers,’ he says. ‘No one is, you know, a given to come into Formula One and perform at a high level. So I feel like, I feel like that’s just sort of a commonality for everyone to be honest. So I don’t feel that in particular.’
He adds that there’s pressure from the outside for all drivers in Formula One at this high level
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-native will be racing near his home for the first time this year.
Florida is home to many great racing tracks, including the Sebring International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the Daytona International Speedway.
But the Miami International Autodrome is the newest among them – a track that Sargeant is looking forward to racing on more than any other.
‘I mean, to be able to go back and race Formula One where it all started for me is definitely a dream come true,’ Sargeant admitted. ‘You know, I never expected Formula One to go to Miami and then now to have a home race on my on my back doorstep with family and friends there to be able to feel the home atmosphere, the Home Energy.
‘I’m hoping I can make that one of my best for sure. And I mean, it’s what I’m, I’m always gonna be looking forward to.
Sargeant, the Fort Lauderdale-native, will race in his backyard track for the first time this year
Beyond Miami, Sargeant is looking forward to racing under the lights of the Las Vegas Strip
Sargeant will be going into Miami with a blind eye to the track – having not even walked it since the infrastructure has gone up around the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
‘To be honest, I haven’t even driven on the simulator yet. So there’s definitely a lot of prep work to do before Miami, but yeah, I mean, it’s just another track that you know, I need to learn but looking forward to it as much as anywhere else.’
The Formula One calendar is packed with American-based races this season, with three on the schedule for the first time since 1982 – when Long Beach, Detroit, and Las Vegas all held Grands Prix.
Vegas returns for the first time since that awful experiment in the parking lot of the Caesar’s Palace casino in 1981 and 1982, but this time on the Strip in front of glittering lights and thousands of people.
In addition to Miami and Vegas, the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas has become one of the best attended events on the F1 calendar – having drawn over 440,000 fans over the course of the weekend in 2022, 40,000 better than the year prior.
Sargeant took a pause before answering which track he was looking forward to racing on the most.
‘That’s really a tough you know, I love Austin. I think the track is amazing. I think, you know, the crowd is always is always showing out there which is amazing. And it’s one I’m always going to look forward to
‘But I mean to race in Vegas is… It’s Vegas. So I think that sort of, you know, tops it for Our man, hopefully it lives up to expectation.
Austin surely holds a special place in Sargeant’s heart – as that’s where he took his first FP1 session and where it was announced he’d be in a seat at Williams in the 2023 F1 campaign
Williams aren’t expected to have much success this season after five straight years of finishes within the bottom three constructors.
With a new team principal in former Mercedes race engineer James Vowles, the FW45 – powered by a Mercedes engine – isn’t likely to turn heads this campaign.
It’s more likely the car will be fighting for the lower reaches of the points as the team continues to deal with last season’s regulations and the new car design.
However, that fact doesn’t seem to have an effect on Sargeant.
‘Definitely not. I think what it does is… it’s a different mindset. I don’t think it affects it, I think, you know, it’s more than more comes down to “Okay, how are we going to, you know, collectively work together to improve as a whole.” And, you know, I still personally have a lot to learn as well.
‘So, I’m extremely motivated to, you know, better myself, but at the same time, keep working with the team to make us stronger as a whole. And I think, you know, moving forward that we’ll just continue to build and get better and better.’
Sargeant says he hasn’t set any particular goals yet, but he will ‘reevaluate’ later in the season
Finally, Sargeant was asked what he hoped to accomplish in the sport in his first season, saying that it was hard to determine where the team is currently. But once that gets figured out, it’ll be easier to consider how well the season went.
‘I think the goal is to always finish in the points. It’s always to have great results,’ Sargeant began before continuing.
‘I don’t think at the moment, there’s any [goal] in particular because, you know, I don’t have… I don’t know exactly where we are, where we’re going to be, coming to these different types of circuits.
‘But I think, you know, a few more races down the line that I can sort of reevaluate and sort of set expectations for myself.’