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Vowles: "Very difficult" to rebuild Sargeant's F1 confidence after Australian GP benching

Williams insists it still has faith in Logan Sargeant but concedes that rebuilding the Formula 1 driver’s confidence will be “very difficult” after benching him for the Australian Grand Prix.

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46

Photo by: Mark Horsburgh

An FP1 crash for Alex Albon damaged his chassis beyond immediate repair. With Williams not having built up a spare tub, the team has opted to sacrifice Sargeant to enter Albon.

Team principal James Vowles concedes the decision to bench the American is “one of the hardest” he has had to make in the job but acknowledges that the tight competitive order has steered Williams to ‘put its money’ on the driver who is more likely to score points.

Vowles admits that rebuilding Sargeant’s confidence will prove “very difficult” but insists the team still backs him to deliver following the late decision to re-hire him for 2024.

“No, I don't think that's the case,” replied Vowles when asked by Autosport whether the move was evidence of Williams not having faith in Sargeant.

“The fact that I re-signed him shows you I have faith in him. This year, I think you've seen he's been closer to Alex than before.

“However, I have one car and just one car. There are five very fast teams taking up those top 10 positions. There's no points apart from if you're in the top 10.

“There's one point separating the bottom five teams, at the moment. So, every point will make a difference between now and the end of the year.

“In that regard, you therefore put your money on the driver that so far, this year, has been slightly ahead of the other one, which is Alex.

“So, I reset everything, [have] taken a view from Bahrain, taken the view from Saudi and taken the view from here, which of the two drivers is most likely to score a point."

Logan Sargeant, Williams Racing

Logan Sargeant, Williams Racing

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

When Albon was unable to contest FP2, Sargeant was not aware he would be replaced for the remainder of the event.

Asked how Williams would rebuild Sargeant’s confidence, Vowles replied: “First and foremost, it's very difficult to do.

“You have an elite athlete that's doing nothing but what I've asked him to do this year. He hasn't made a single mistake; he didn't put a foot wrong across this year.

“Yet, I've taken him out of the car. So, that would damage whether it's you in a car or him in the car, it would damage your confidence.

“One of the methods I've been putting in place with him so far is structure, including he and I talking about where his strengths are, and where are his weaknesses, help and support in terms of his surroundings in order to move him forward.

“The truth behind it is, with a racing driver, when they get in the car again, which for him now will be in Japan, and he ends up within milliseconds of Alex, which is what he's been doing the last few races, you'll see the confidence flows back anyway.

“He understands this is a team sport. It's the weirdest sport in the world, where I've got two drivers, but it's a team sport.”

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