US F1 hopeful Logan Sargeant ready to take the leap from Formula 3
Formula 1 is developing in the United States.
This month’s US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas is sold out. Starting in May 2022, there will be a second Formula 1 Grand Prix in the United States, this one around Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami.
But, as has been the case for the past half-decade, it certainly looks like there won’t be an American on the Formula 1 grid.
America has not been represented on the grid since Alexander Rossi’s all-too-brief stint of five races with ailing (and now defunct) Manor Marussia team in 2015. The last American rider before Rossi in F1 was Scott Speed , in 2006-07, and before him was Michael Andretti, in 1993.
The best-placed driver on Formula 1’s single-seater ladder system is 20-year-old Floridian Logan Sargeant. But Sargeant still faces challenges if he even wants to be the next Rossi.
Formula 1 feed championships use single-specification machines, but there are teams with better equipment, more finances, and greater overall potential. Sargeant was on the right side of that equation for the Formula 3 season in 2020, driving for leader Prema, and came close to winning a championship. He placed third, just four points behind champion Oscar Piastri.
Yet the natural progression to Formula 2 did not materialize.
The reason? Money.
It’s not a bloody story, nor atypical, it’s just a consequence of the expensive world of motorsport. Formula 2 seats comfortably cost over a million dollars for a season. For a leader’s seat, this figure can be doubled or even tripled.
While six of his contemporaries stepped up a division, Sargeant instead stayed in Formula 3, joining Charouz Racing System. The Czech Republic-based team were the last of 10 F3 teams in 2020 with just five points. Sargeant used his experience and lifted Charouz to fifth place this season, providing him with his first Formula 3 podiums and then his first win, in the final in Russia, contributing 102 of his 127 points along the way. That left Sargeant seventh in the overall driver standings of 2021 – four positions down from 2020, but no doubt an equally impressive achievement.
“I think 2021 as a whole has been honestly a pretty positive season,” Sargeant said. Automatic week.
“Obviously, after my 2020 season, the goal was to reach F2, but the budget stopped it.
“I think going to Charouz they needed a lot of help and I think to get them from last place in the championship to fifth place, practically on their own, I would say it’s a pretty good season. solid and we definitely improved the car, which is what my job was to do this year.
“If I hadn’t taken the opportunity to help (Charouz) move forward, I probably wouldn’t have raced this year, so you have to see the positives. I did what I could, I know to myself that I was as good, if not better, than last year. It’s about doing my best, helping them as much as I can and pushing them forward.
The move to a smaller team has helped Sargeant, he believes, become a more complete runner.
“I used this year to be extremely self-critical and improve myself, too,” he says. “Last year (with Prema) you could make a few mistakes and it wouldn’t cost you a lot because you had a pretty good pace advantage for the most part. But this year every detail mattered, every tenth I could find was critical, so I think picking those things and trying to minimize those mistakes and push myself as high (high) on the grid was something that I worked.
There is an obvious next step but, like 12 months ago, doing it is the hardest part.
“The objective is to arrive in F2”, specifies Sargeant, stressing that “the budget is not easy”.
“It was obviously my dream: to try to reach F1. To get to F1, we have to integrate a top-notch team in F2, and we’re really trying to do that. Hope this comes together.
A top-tier team in F2 is exactly where Sargeant’s 2020 rivals Piastri and Theo Pourchaire landed in 2021. They are now first and fifth in the table, showing what is possible.
“We were all in the water last year, I just missed the game,” said Sargeant, whose title hopes were dissolved after being pulled from the final race at the start.
“I was Oscar’s teammate for a whole year, we faced each other and it was very close, so seeing them do well (in Formula 2) is positive for me because I know I can be there- high with them. I just hope I have my chance. I just need this opportunity in a good car and I’ll do it.
Sargeant has the required FIA Super License points and is striving for the opportunity to drive in the Formula 2 post-season testing. Formula 2 is to be held in Abu Dhabi, 16-18. December, just after the end of the 2021 season, to allow teams to assess candidates for 2022.
Formula 1, particularly under Liberty Media, has prioritized the US market, but without focusing too much on the driver, an aspect Sargeant admits “is a bit frustrating”. Pursuing the dream has already meant making tough choices, including having a seasonal base in London, away from family and friends. But there is an optimistic overall approach to the situation.
“Living alone in Europe can get a bit boring sometimes, but that’s how it is,” he says. “It comes down to the sacrifice: do you want to arrive in F1 or not? It means you have to be based in Europe, keep working and try to get there in the end. It’s extremely difficult, but you make it work.
“It’s a tough world, so you have to try to figure it out and move on. “
Beyond Sargeant, the United States still has some hope; Jak Crawford, a 16-year-old junior backed by Red Bull, placed 13th in Formula 3 as a rookie, Juan Manuel Correa bravely returned from a one-year injury layoff (following his horrific F2 crash in 2019) to finish 21st, while British Formula 3 champion Kaylen Frederick was 22nd, despite injury and COVID disrupting his campaign. Sargeant, however, is the best rider to take his chances at the next level.
If Formula 1 was really serious about preparing an American for the F1 grid, it could do worse than looking Sargeant’s way.
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