Verstappen would ‘destroy’ car in Sargeant’s situation

Sun, 24 March 2024, 05:00

Mar.24 (GMM) Williams is still taking fire for its lack of preparation for the 2024 season.

Alex Albon crashed heavily in Melbourne practice, badly damaging the chassis. He was then shuffled into the sidelined teammate Logan Sargeant’s car for the remainder of the weekend – enraging his fans and puzzling Formula 1 experts.

“I would have made the same decision,” former Haas boss Gunther Steiner told Servus TV. “You just have to look at the statistics – Alex did a very good job for them last year. The team is always the focus.

“But if I was Logan Sargeant, I would be asking why there is no replacement chassis. I find that amazing,” Steiner insisted. “I have never heard that there is no replacement chassis at the third race of the season.”

A sheepish team boss James Vowles, formerly at title-winning Mercedes, explained to reporters in Melbourne that Williams has been caught out in its transition phase from outdated methods to the highest standards in F1.

“This year’s car has almost ten times more parts than last year’s,” he explained.

But, alarmingly, a spare chassis will still not be ready for Suzuka in two weeks – leaving Williams scrambling to repair the badly-damaged Albon monocoque instead.

“I’m sure we’ll have two cars in Japan,” Vowles said, “but I can’t guarantee this 100 percent. It all depends on the analysis of the damage at the factory, but the probability is very high.”

Sargeant, therefore, might face yet another grand prix on the bench. “That of course sucks for Logan,” triple world champion Max Verstappen told De Telegraaf newspaper in Melbourne.

“I understand the team making that decision from the performance aspect,” the Red Bull driver added. “But it’s not nice. I wouldn’t have given up my car in such a case. Certainly not in my position.

“Then I would have been on the plane by now,” the Dutchman smiled. “And first I would destroy my own car so no one could drive it anymore.

“Luckily in my position I don’t have to worry about something like that happening to me.”

It’s also an awkward situation for Albon – destroying his own car and then sidelining the hapless Sargeant, 23.

“No one wants to race in a teammate’s car, and I don’t either,” Albon insisted. “I’ve never been in a situation like this before and it’s a strange feeling.

“I just have to try to ignore the whole story as much as possible.”

According to Vowles, Sargeant took the news with “a lot more maturity than I would have at his age”. Indeed, the American returned to the garage on Saturday and Sunday to watch Albon qualifying and race his car.

“His ethics are incredibly strong in that regard,” Vowles said, admitting it was difficult to explain to Sargeant why the decision was made.

“I told him the facts. He has improved, he is closer to Alex than before, but he is not quite at the level to be in front of Alex,” said the team boss.

“But I haven’t changed my mind about Logan. I signed him and put all my support behind him because I believe in him.”

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