Logan Sargeant on the Miami Grand Prix, the pressure of F1, and ‘Lap of Legends’

Formula 1 is heading back to the United States.

And for one of the 20 drivers on the grid, it is a true homecoming.

F1 returns to the US for the first of three races stateside this weekend, with the third Miami Grand Prix. But for one driver in particular, this is a true home race. Logan Sargeant, in his second season in F1, is set to drive in his second Miami Grand Prix, just minutes from where he grew up in Fort Lauderdale.

SB Nation caught up with Sargeant this week before heading to Miami, to talk about the start to his second season, the pressure of life in Formula 1, racing in Miami, and even the one spot in South Beach he would recommend for a bite to eat.

F1 Grand Prix of China

A slow start to the season

When Williams officially began the 2024 F1 season, unveiling their challenger for this year at a live event in New York City, confidence around the team was high.

And with good reason.

Williams shocked the field last year, in both Sargeant’s rookie season and the first year for Team Principal James Vowles. Thanks to an impressive performance from Alexander Albon, and Sargeant becoming the first American driver since Michael Andretti back in 1993 to score a point in an F1 race, with a tenth-place finish at last season’s United States Grand Prix, Williams managed a seventh-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship.

The belief was that the team could build on that performance, and maybe even push a spot higher up the table.

While there is a lot of season left, it has been a slow start for Williams. The team has yet to open their account for the 2024 campaign, and endured a difficult weekend in Australia when a crash by Albon during practice left the team with just one operational car for the Australian Grand Prix. Vowles, calling it the most “difficult” decision of his career, decided to slide Albon into Sargeant’s seat, sidelining the American driver during the race.

Our conversation began with the team’s start to the season, and where the team’s collective mindset is heading into Miami.

“I think when I look at the team, there’s areas that we all need to, you know, try and improve on. That we all need to try and do a little bit of a better job on, and I think that’s the mindset. It’s just trying to get everything out of each other,” described Sargeant.

Everyone wants to do their part to ultimately perform the best we can over the course of a weekend. So for sure, we know we need to do things better. But it’s not like we’re demoralized,” continued the Williams driver. “If anything, we’re just working towards making the things that can be better, better.”

One of the things that is better for the team this year?

Their car.

While Williams has yet to finish in the points this season, Sargeant called the FW46, their challenger for the 2024 season, a big improvement over last season’s FW45.

Unfortunately, that does come with a catch.

“The car is a big step forward from last year, one-hundred percent,” started Sargeant before laughing. “I think the issue is everyone’s made a big step forward from last year.”

“So it’s always relative. It’s always a challenge. I think this year [it’s] closer than ever in that, bottom midfield, midfield pack and it’s the details that matter at this point. There’s some things in, in due course that should start to help us keep improving and keep getting more, more time out of [the FW46] but some people are already bringing upgrades the past few rounds and that’s definitely uplifted them a bit.”

“We just need to keep working hard to keep trying to improve ourselves,” continued Sargeant. “No doubt it’s gonna be tough, it’s gonna be close, but we just need to keep working on ourselves.”

The main goal for Sargeant, and the team, heading forward this season?

Clean weekends.

“It’s been a little bit difficult at times for sure, but I think there’s been a lot of positive moments. So I think we have to try and lean into that best we can,” described Sargeant. “I think the big thing is just, I don’t think as a whole we put together a clean weekend yet, so that’s our aim, that’s what we wanna do.

“And, I think if we do that, it can leave us in a decent position.”

Racing with “Legends”

We then turned the conversation to the upcoming “Lap of Legends.” Put together by Williams in partnership with Michelob Ultra, “Lap of Legends” pits Sargeant against former Williams legends including Mario Andretti, Damon Hill, Jenson Button, and more. SB Nation spoke with Button recently regarding “Lap of Legends,” but now it was time to get Sargeant’s perspective.

“It was really cool,” started Sargeant.

“I mean, one of the biggest pieces of a project I’ve done ever, especially over the last two years. And I think a lot of the stuff we did was was really, really cool.”

For the driver, perhaps the best part of the experience was the time spent with the Williams legends.

“I mean, one of the coolest parts was being able to meet the legends of the past in Williams’ history and even just be able to talk to them, get advice from them. Just having those conversations was special, and to have them a part of it is definitely important,” described Sargeant. “I think that really makes the project whole.

“Just having the opportunity to learn and talk to these guys who have had entire career racing in Formula One, and world champions. I think it was really nice to hear, I guess you could say, a lot of the similarities, a lot of the different challenges that we all face and how they best took those on,” continued Sargeant. “How they best dealt with the things across their career. Of course, it’s a different generation and things change. But at the same time we’re still racing drivers and we understand each other, which is, which is just nice to have those conversations.”

Was there a bit of advice that Sargeant received that stood out the most?

“I think the big thing was just, and I think we all experience, is just to always believe in yourself. I think we all spoke about it and how big the sport is from a mental point of view, and how you need to be mentally tough,” outlined Sargeant. “I think the fact that we all have experienced something like that across our careers and how big of a difference that made by making sure they’re able to stay on top of that was good to hear.”

One of the taglines in the promotional materials for “Lap of Legends” talks about how the project was designed to remind Sargeant to “enjoy the ride.”

So I asked the young driver if that goal was achieved.

“I think it’s always one of those things when you’re, you know, the top of a professional sport, the top level of competition, it’s hard. You’re giving everything you have, it’s intense, it’s serious. You want to do well, the pressure to perform whatever whatever it may be,” described Sargeant. “But I think there’s definitely moments throughout, that I can pick out where I’m like, ‘oh, that was amazing. That was super cool to be able to do that and have that opportunity.’ So sometimes you do get caught up in it and you need to remind yourself to step back, look at it from a different perspective. And, you know, try to enjoy how fortunate you are.”

F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice & Sprint Qualifying

Photo by Bryn Lennon – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The pressure of life in F1

One of the hardest things to do as a professional athlete is to block out the noise.

Unfortunately, life in F1 comes with a lot of noise. Not just the trackside noise, but the endless speculation about job security. With only 20 seats available on the grid, and hundreds upon hundreds of drivers vying for those spots, there is always pressure to perform.

So I asked Sargeant how hard it is to block out that noise, and do the job at hand. Especially during a week like this one, when he is racing at home, which brings added demands on his time.

“It is tough,” started Sargeant.

“I’m lucky, I got to go back for a couple of days before I flew out to New York for a couple of days of media. But not only that I have Wednesday off, which is huge. So I’ll spend that with family and friends, and it is important to block some stuff out.”

Sargeant then noted that blocking out the noise was one area he might have struggled with as a rookie.

“I think last year I didn’t do the best job at times of letting things outside of what I really needed to do, drain me too much. So that’s something I’m trying not to let happen anymore,” described Sargeant. “But of course, everything takes a toll, it’s just the way life is.”

What came next was some life advice that I believe anyone could benefit from.

“I think the biggest thing is finding those moments to spend with family and friends. If you need a moment to yourself, you just wanna take it, relax for a night, watch some TV, whatever it may be, play some golf with friends one day.

“Those are the big moments that can make a difference to how you’re feeling going into a race.”

Racing at Hard Rock

Our conversation then turned to this weekend, and Sargeant’s second race at home. But before we talked racing, I did follow up on a previous conversation with the Williams driver. The team debuted “Team Torque” earlier this year, a podcast hosted by Sargeant and Albon. In the first episode Sargeant noted that a dream guest would be Tom Brady.

Might that happen in this week’s installment?

“Not this weekend,” responded Sargeant.

But fear not NFL fans, there will be a football guest on this week’s show that Sargeant teased during our conversation.

“We do have a special football player on the pod this weekend. It’ll be me, my trainer and … you’ll soon find out,” said Sargeant, handling the teaser responsibilities of podcast hosting to perfection.

I then asked Sargeant what I needed to do while down in Miami, as this weekend marks my first trip to South Beach.

“Well, you’re putting pressure on me now,” started Sargeant. “I mean, there is great food that is for sure. I would recommend a restaurant called Mila. If you don’t want to go down the food route, you just gotta get on the water somehow.”

If anyone at Mila is reading this, you have your next celebrity endorser. And I’ll take a table for one Sunday night.

We then talked about the race itself, and I asked Sargeant to walk me through a lap at Miami. The driver then educated me not just on the track itself, but what you need from the car to be successful in the Miami Grand Prix.

“I think Miami is an interesting track. It’s very unique, it’s very different to a lot of tracks that we go to. You’ve got extremely different types of sectors in terms of low speed, high speed, tight and twisty, long and flowing,” began Sargeant.

“The first sector being long, flowing, very much a rhythm-based sector. You want a car that’s gonna be complying over bumps, not unpredictable, something that you can really build on. Whereas you look at Sector Two, it’s tight, twisty. You need a car that’s sharp, quick change of direction, good on traction.

“So these two styles kind of contradict each other a little bit.

“So you’re always trying to find the best way to use your tools, but also [get] the set up of the car to be as best balanced as you can over these different styles of corners. But generally a really fun lap, a tricky lap to get perfect.”

Screenshot 2024 04 30 at 10.30.07 AM

I then asked Sargeant about the end of Sector Two, the twisty section from Turn 11 through Turn 16, which you can see above. Is this the toughest section of the Miami circuit?

“I think when you look at, you know, racing as a whole, there’s a lot of time on the table in low speed corners and obviously having that tight, extremely low speed section is important to get it together. But you do need a car that you’re comfortable with through there to be able to get everything out of it.

“But yeah it’s a tricky little section for sure, especially when you have wind thrown in there.”

As for how he and Williams will fare down in Miami, Sargeant ended our conversation on a very optimistic, upbeat note.

“I’m not completely sure where we’re gonna be performance based, but like I said, I think this track can potentially suit our car better than a couple of the last ones we’ve been to. So a little bit of optimism there for sure.

“We need to execute a clean weekend and see where that leaves us.”

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