Floridian driver Logan Sargeant seems destined to end the wait for an American on the Formula One grid.
Sargeant, 21, is competing in Friday practice for Williams ahead of Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix in Austin and seems to be the prime candidate to replace Nicholas Latifi at the team next year.
In what has been a driver market of big twists and turns Sargeant’s name has featured more and more as time has gone on. With Daniel Ricciardo committing to a year away from racing (and likely a Mercedes reserve driver role) for 2023 and Nyck de Vries signing for AlphaTauri, Williams academy driver Sargeant has become the most obvious name for the team.
F1 is booming in America like never before. When asked whether that popularity comes with extra pressure, Sargeant tells ESPN: “I get asked that question a lot! From my side, I have so much self expectation and I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform anyway that anything else from the outside doesn’t really equal that. I don’t think it’s any extra pressure.
“I see all the media but I just have to block it out.I have a job to do. First FP1 in Austin and then finishing the Formula 2 season strong, I can’t really focus on anything beyond that right now.
“I obviously know the history of an American not being in there for a while but I can’t dwell on that too much, I can’t really afford to.”
A U.S. driver hasn’t competed in F1 since Alexander Rossi at the end of 2015. Rossi’s departure actually speaks to a wider problem in racing, being replaced by the well funded but inexperienced Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto. Ironically, the superlicence points system which was later brought in to prevent situations like that playing out is what stopped IndyCar’s Colton Herta from making the grid for not having enough points.
Superlicence points are still a key part of this equation for Sargeant, who needs to finish sixth or higher in the F2 championship to gain the final numbers he needs. He is currently 3rd, but the four drivers behind him are within 12 points, meaning he goes in to the Abu Dhabi F2 finale knowing what he needs to do to secure the seat.
The American driver has had his sights set on F1 for a long time. The son of energy billionaire Harry Sargeant III, he moved to Europe aged nine to pursue that end goal – he now lives in London.
One of the quirks of the current racing pyramid is that the most logical route to F1 is through the European pyramid, which culminates in support series Formula 3 and Formula 2.
“I purely moved for the opportunity to reach Formula One. I put in a lot of sacrifice for this.
“I was 100 percent committed to Formula One. I knew if I went the European route I could always go back to America, but I feel like the other way around is extremely difficult. It was worth the sacrifice to go back to Formula One – America’s always going to be there to go back to!”
Sargeant’s love of racing was started by one of America’s more traditional racing series.
“My first actual racing idol was Jeff Gordon from NASCAR. I sort of grew up watching more NASCAR than Formula One, just being American that’s what was most popular at the time.
“Then I started to get my eye in on Formula One.”
Sargeant was a fan of Felipe Massa, who finished his career with the Williams team.
“I started watching when he was at Ferrari, so he was pretty big at the time! It’s kinda cool he ended up here and that’s the team that eventually picked me up.”
The odds look good that Sargeant can follow in Massa’s footsteps but he is not getting carried away thinking about the future.
“I’m just taking it all one step at a time. I can’t start thinking about next year when I have jobs to do this year – first FP1 in Austin and then finishing the season strong. Everything else hopefully follows that”.