- Williams Racing announced that Logan Sargeant will get a test drive during the US Grand Prix in October.
- The F2 driver has emerged as a strong candidate to be the next American driver in F1.
- There has not been an American F1 driver since 2015, and the last full-time driver competed in 2007.
Logan Sargeant may not be well known in the world of US motorsports, but he has suddenly emerged as a strong candidate to rise to Formula One and end the sport’s drought of American drivers.
On Tuesday, F1 team Williams Racing announced that Sargeant would get an official test drive with the team during the first practice session before the United States Grand Prix in October.
—Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) August 2, 2022
“To be taking part of my first ever FP1 in Austin is something really special to me and something I’m sure I’ll cherish for a very long time,” Sargeant said after the announcement. “I’m just looking to make the most of it, learn as much as I can, and enjoy the moment.”
Sargeant acknowledged that he is not a big name on the American landscape yet but is hoping this opportunity will change that.
“I’m not sure they’ll know who I am, but hopefully, they will after that session,” Sargeant said. “I think the atmosphere at COTA is always one of the best, and obviously it’s going to be FP1, so it might not be too crazy, but hopefully, they’ll be out to support [me].”
Sargeant, part of the Williams Driver Academy, races for Carlin and has surprised many with his performance in his first F2 season. He became the first American to win an F2 race earlier this season at the British Grand Prix and later added a second win at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The race is on
And now the race is on to become the first American driver in F1 since current IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi started five races in 2015. The last full-time American driver on the grid was the aptly named Scott Speed in 2006 and 2007. Before Speed, you have to go all the way back to Mario Andretti in 1982, who was the last American to win an F1 race.
Sargeant will be the second American to get an F1 test drive this year, joining the more well-known IndyCar driver, Colton Herta, who tested with McLaren. However, Herta’s test was mid-week and private and not part of an official race weekend.
While Herta has long been considered the most likely to break through as the next American F1 driver thanks to his ties to McLaren and Michael Andretti’s hopes for an F1 expansion team, Sargeant might have the clearer and quicker path.
So far, Andretti’s hopes of buying an F1 expansion team have not received enough support from other teams and seem to have stalled.
As for McLaren, Herta has other challengers for a potential seat, in IndyCar drivers Pato O’Ward (who already drives for McLaren’s IndyCar team) and Álex Palou (who will join McLaren in 2023 with his eyes set on F1). There is also the question of when McLaren will have an available seat. Daniel Ricciardo is under contract for 2023 and has said he plans to be in the car, meaning an opening might not come until 2024.
Meanwhile, both Williams drivers, Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, have contracts that expire this season. While Albon has a good shot of returning, Latifi is expected to be out, possibly opening the door for Sargeant.
One thing that could stand in the way of Sargeant is the unknown status of Australian prospect Oscar Piastri. The 2021 F2 champion is Alpine’s reserve driver and on Tuesday, Alpine announced Piastri would be their second driver in 2023. However, Piastri later debunked that announcement, saying he has not signed a contract and would not be their driver next year.
This could mean that Piastri is already committed to another team and Williams is one team he has been linked to for next season. If so, that would close the door on Sargeant.
Sargeant could be left without a car to drive if he performs too well
Also complicating matters is if Sargeant wins the F2 championship. Drivers who win the title are not allowed to return the next season. If Sargeant doesn’t get the Williams seat, he could be elevated to reserve driver, the same path taken by Piastri. But like Piastri, that would leave Sargeant without a car to drive next season.
Williams team principal Jost Capito called this potentially a good problem to have, while also calling Sargeant a future F1 driver.
“It would be a great headache, wouldn’t it?” Capito said earlier this season. “I’ve had worse ones. Of course, we are impressed. You know, it’s his first season in F2. We didn’t put any pressure on him. So as I said, he has the time to develop, and he’s really impressed us with how fast he has got to grips with the car, about the tire management and getting results … He will be in a Formula 1 car in the future, I’m absolutely convinced.”
With F1 making strong in-roads with the American audience thanks to the Netflix series “Drive to Survive,” the success of the US Grand Prix and Miami Grand Prix, and the incoming Las Vegas Grand Prix, those fans may soon have an American to root for on the grid. If Logan Sargeant is the one to emerge, they will quickly learn that name.