Vowles defends Sargeant amid replacement rumours

F1 News

James Vowles defends William's Logan Sargeant
27 April at 18:30
  • Sophia Crothall

Following his penalty in China, James Vowles has defended Logan Sargeant, arguing that the responsibility lies with the team, and not the driver. This follows speculation which suggests the American driver could be replaced next season due to his performance. 

"The responsibility falls to us"

Speaking on 'The Vowles Verdict', Williams' YouTube series, Team Principal James Vowles defended Sargeant, and said it was the team's responsibility for the incident, and that they "missed it". Vowles said that it would have been "very difficult for the driver to have adjudicated whether it was ahead or behind, so the responsibility falls to us and we missed it." 

Vowles added: "We need to develop more and better automated tools that allow us to see what's going on there at that point because it took us multiple camera replays before we could see where the difference was for the onboards which we have video for; you couldn't tell who was ahead and who was behind. Their [the FIA] adjudication was correct." 

Could Sargeant be replaced after the Miami GP?

Rumours have continued to circulate that the American driver is set to be replaced by Formula 2 driver and rising star Andrea Kimi Antonelli after the Miami GP. Joe Saward was able to report that Williams are looking for a new driver. Not just for 2025, but this season.

Nevertheless, Williams responded to the rumours saying, "We have an exciting driver line-up and our focus is on the year ahead. We always have an eye on the future, but our focus is on delivering maximum success in 2024."

However, the Mercedes junior is only 17 years old and thus not old enough to qualify for a super licence. That minimum age was set after Max Verstappen's debut in 2015. 

Sargeant's performance in Formula 1

Sargeant joined Williams in 2023 as a F1 rookie. During his first season, he only managed to score one point for his performance in Austin. The remainder of the team's points came from his team-mate Alex Albon. This saw Williams finish seventh in the Constructor's Championship in 2023, their best result since finishing fifth in 2017. So far this season, both Williams drivers are yet to score a point in the first five races of the season. 

Sargeant was left without a car to drive during the Australian Grand Prix, following Albon crashing his and the team being left without a spare. This meant Albon raced in Sargeant's car instead. 

What happened in China?

During the Chinese Grand Prix, Sargeant was handed a 10-second time penalty, alongside two points for his Super Licence. This brings his total to eight for the 12-month period. Sargeant was awarded the penalty during the Safety Car period, where Nico Hulkenburg emerged almost side-by-side with the driver. Following Turn 1, the Williams driver swept around the outside and took the position. 

Replays have shown that Hulkenburg was fractionally ahead of the American, meaning Sargeant had passed the Haas driver under Safety Car conditions, breaching Article 55.8 of the Sporting Regulations. The Williams driver concluded the race finishing 17th.