The battle for pole position in Formula 1 is heating up between Red Bull teammates Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, while Aston Martin, Mercedes, and Ferrari give chase. Yet heading into the second annual Miami Grand Prix, on May 7, many of the headlines and eyes will be fixated on another storyline, that of Williams rookie Logan Sargeant. The American driver is participating in his first Formula 1 race on U.S. soil, and in his home state of Florida.
Originally from the city of Boca Raton, Sargeant began racing go-karts with his brother when he was 6 years old, already aspiring to drive fast like his idol, NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon. After moving to Switzerland at the age of 12, Sargeant hoisted the 2015 World Junior Karting title two years later, becoming the first U.S. driver to win an FIA Karting World Championship title since 1978.
Now, Sargeant is the first U.S. driver in Formula 1 since Alexander Rossi, in 2015, and the first to compete in the series full time since Scott Speed, in 2007. Before the upcoming race weekend at the Miami International Autodrome, Sargeant slowed down long enough to give Robb Report insights on his rookie campaign, the pressure of being Formula 1’s stateside standard bearer, and his highly anticipated homecoming.
Your first Formula 1 race on U.S. soil is in your home state? Does that add pressure, motivation, or both?
I’m feeling good. I’m feeling excited. I was in Baku [site of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix] last weekend and it was hard to not look forward to this one. It’s so nice to be home. It’s definitely going to be a special weekend for me. I have friends and family coming out. I’m going to be full of adrenaline, full of motivation, and really ready to take on this track for the first time and have a great weekend.
How do you keep that adrenaline in check and avoid getting too caught up in the moment?
It all comes down to preparation. I feel very prepared for this one, even though I’ve never been here. I’ve done a lot of laps on the simulator. It’s going to be a challenging weekend—it’s going to be hot, humid. It’s one of the most physical tracks that we race at. There’s a lot of hurdles to get over, but we’re going to take it session by session and try to be there when it matters most.
After the first four races, how would you assess your rookie season so far? What’s been the biggest learning curve in the jump from Formula 2 to Formula 1?
It’s just been about trying to get as comfortable as I can with the car—learning how it needs to be driven, learning the different things I can change while I’m driving to help myself with car balance, and just using tools on the steering wheel. That’s been the biggest thing to learn. I think I’m getting closer and closer. I’m still not where I want to be. We’re taking it race by race and I really feel like I’m taking steps forward. And we have another opportunity to keep improving this weekend, and that’s really the goal at the moment.
Talking about taking it race by race, your best finish was 12th in Bahrain. What’s it going to take to break into the top 10 and earn points for the first time?
That was my best finish, however, I do feel like we’ve definitely improved since then. I feel like my qualifyings are getting stronger. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable. I think we just need to . . . have the race come to us a little bit. We’ve gone off strategy a few times, which hasn’t worked, and it’s bit us—but it’s all part of the game. I think if we improve race pace a little bit and we keep qualifying well, we’re going to have a chance to score points this weekend.
What’s your relationship like with teammate Alex Albon?
We have a great relationship. He’s been extremely impressive to start the season and a great reference for me to learn from. I think he’s driving exceptionally at the moment and that’s perfect for me as a rookie. That’s where I need to get to. We have a great friendship, to be honest. There’s no bad blood. Of course, you want to beat each other; we’re competitive. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t want to beat each other, but at the same time, we’re in a position where we’re not winning races, so we’re doing our best to push each other and push the team forward. At the moment, I think it’s working very well, and he’s a great person for me to try to build up to.
Although Williams has fallen on hard times recently, it’s one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 history, having won nine Constructors’ Championships from 1980 through 1997. How do you and Alex plan to guide Williams back to prominence?
These things don’t happen overnight. We have to keep chipping away at it. It’s not going to happen this year. We just have to keep building and understand the direction we want to take the car and eventually, we’ll get there. I can feel real improvement in the team. I think James [team principal James Vowles] has been a really great addition, and he’s pushing us in the right direction.
Seeing how popular Formula 1 has recently become in the U.S., how do you feel about being the nation’s lone representative in this top tier of motorsport?
It’s a privilege. It’s an honor to represent the country. I absolutely love every chance I get to come home, that’s for sure. I expect to be performing at a high level each and every day, so no one can really put more pressure on me than I do myself, and the pressure’s always there. It’s just about dealing with it and delivering when it matters. I have to keep building and eventually, hopefully, I can put our country on top. That’s my goal.
What advice do you have for a kid in the U.S. who aspires to be on Formula 1’s starting grid someday?
You have to persevere. You’re going to go through good times, you’re going to go through tough times. Have a good support team around you. I even look at karting now and there are loads of young Americans, which is great to see. As long as they can stick with it and put the hard work in, I think you’re going to start to see more Americans in the future.
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