Japanese GP: Logan Sargeant admits to ‘silly mistake’ as team principal James Vowles rues Williams crashes

Logan Sargeant suffered a big crash in Practice One on Friday in Suzuka on his return from missing most of the Australian GP weekend; watch Japanese GP qualifying at 7am on Saturday live on Sky Sports F1, with the race at 6am on Sunday

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Williams Racing driver Logan Sargeant takes a massive hit into the wall and brings out the red flag during P1 at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Williams boss James Vowles described Logan Sargeant’s crash in Japanese Grand Prix practice as “frustrating” as the team’s lack of resources once more came into focus.

Sargeant ran wide at the high-speed Turn Seven, spun and hit the barriers halfway through first practice in Suzuka, causing a red flag and major damage to the FW46, which was actually limited by the good fortune of the car hitting the barrier front – rather than side – on.

The incident came after Sargeant had missed the majority of the Australian Grand Prix weekend two weeks ago, when team-mate Alex Albon was given the American’s car for qualifying and the race after his own crash in practice revealed the team did not have a spare chassis

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The damage caused by Sargeant’s shunt forced him to miss Friday’s second practice session in Suzuka, but he ultimately avoided the loss of any track time in the absence of meaningful running due to rain.

“At the top of the brow of the hill there, he (Sargeant) struggled to see where his positioning was on track,” Vowles explained.

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Watch the best moments during practice one and two from day one of the Japanese Grand Prix.

“So it fundamentally looks like he didn’t quite realise where he was with where the grass was on the outside and put a wheel on the grass.”

Sargeant is under pressure to keep his seat for 2025 having been the last driver to be confirmed for this year’s grid, after an underwhelming rookie campaign led to speculation over whether the 23-year-old would be replaced.

Vowles insisted that Sargeant’s crash in Suzuka was not a direct result of the decision to sideline the American in Melbourne.

“I’ve been chatting to him all week, all these last few weeks, in fact, because this is the point where you’ve got to keep a driver very close to you,” Vowles said. “You’ve sort of given them a very difficult situation to deal with, through no fault of their own.

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Alex Albon covers the track in debris to bring out the red flag in Practice One at the Australian GP.

“But he was honestly in a very good state of mind this week and last night again when I called him, a really, really strong state of mind, just wanted to get back into the car and get going, but not with the intention of proving to the world he deserves a seat, just his normal approach to things.

“And what you saw here wasn’t a driver making a mistake because I think they were pushing to the limit. It’s a very different type of mistake, a frustrating one by all accounts, because it wasn’t on the limit of what the car could do. There was far more turning potential in there. He just didn’t know where the car was on track relative to where he expected it to be anyway.

“So I don’t think you’re seeing there the reaction of someone that wasn’t driving in Melbourne. I think you’re seeing more just a situation that could have appeared at any time.”

Sargeant described the decision to give his chassis to Albon in Australia as the “hardest moment” of his motorsport career, but insisted his confidence has not been impacted and wasn’t a factor in Friday’s crash.

“It definitely wasn’t knocked at all,” he said. “If anything I came into this round after a week off feeling more fresh and ready to go than ever.

“So no. No confidence lost. I wanted to kick myself a little bit after today but nothing to do with that. It was just a visual error that I’ll move forward from tomorrow.”

Vowles: FW46 does not have ill-handling characteristics

The crashes have contributed to a disappointing start to the season for Williams, who are one of three teams – along with Sauber and Alpine – to have not yet scored a point.

With the big five of – Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Aston Martin – holding a clear pace advantage over the rest of the field, RB and Haas are the teams to have taken advantage of retirements to score points during the opening three races.

Vowles is confident the costly accidents for his drivers have simply been down to mistakes, rather than any fundamental issues with the car.

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Williams team principal James Vowles admits Logan Sargeant’s car took ‘significant damage’ after he collided with the wall in P1 and is unsure if it’ll run again in P2.

“When you see the midfield at the moment, it’s incredibly tight, what we are asking of the drivers is to be absolutely on the limit to get everything out of it,” he told Sky Sports F1. “There’s no margin for error fundamentally in terms of performance. I don’t think the car has any ill-handling characteristics.

“Turn Six in Melbourne is a corner they grind down afterwards, there was a bit of a tricky kerb there. It wasn’t that Alex was particularly abusing it that early on, more just an extensive loss of control than he expected by riding the kerb.

“And here, in terms of visibility, going off line by a few centimetres. That’s not really when you are on the edge in qualifying and pushing the limits. That’s just a mistake.

“It’s a sore statistic that we are generating as many red flags as we are and clearly it affects future programmes, so we have to get on top of that.”

Williams spare chassis not ready until Miami GP

While Williams were able to confirm that Sargeant’s car will be ready for final practice on Saturday, Vowles also admitted that no spare chassis will be available until the Miami Grand Prix in May.

The team will therefore go through the remainder of the weekend in Japan and the first Sprint weekend of the season in China in two weeks’ time knowing that a crash could result in the same disastrous outcome as seen in Australia.

Vowles explained the process that has left Williams on the back foot, as Alpine team principal Bruno Famin also admitted the Enstone squad have been and will remain without a spare chassis until the Chinese Grand Prix.

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Sky Sports’ Craig Slater explains the difficult decision Williams team principal James Vowles would have had to make that resulted in Logan Sargeant giving up his car to team-mate Alex Albon.

“If you put all of your resource, everything you possibly had within the organisation on it, you could be eight, 10 weeks that you pretty much get a chassis done, from freezer to something actually built and out there,” Vowles said.

“And that’s by the time you get to sort of the third chassis. It takes longer for the first ones as you get used to the process. Clearly we don’t have the whole organisation just working on that.

“We’re working at the same time on spares and updates and trying to get the throughput. Everything’s just a huge amount that goes through the organisation at this stage. In our particular case, clearly, we don’t and never had the intention of being here without three chassis.

“The intention was to have three right at the beginning of the year. It’s an outcome from just an overload within the system, the complexity of this car and the amount that we were trying to push through.

“But in terms of the complexity of it, it’s enormous. I mean, the chassis is thousands and thousands of pieces you’re trying to bring together at the same time.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Japanese GP schedule

Saturday April 6
3.15am: Japanese GP Practice Three (session starts at 3.30am)*
6am: Japanese GP Qualifying build-up*
7am: Japanese GP Qualifying*
9am: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese GP Qualifying replay

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Look back on some of the most exciting title deciders to take place at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Sunday April 7
5am: Grand Prix Sunday Japanese GP build-up*
8am: Chequered Flag: Japanese GP reaction*
9am: Ted’s Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese Grand Prix highlights*
10.30am: Japanese Grand Prix replay

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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