Vowles: F1 battle for ‘milliseconds’ justifies sacrificing Sargeant


Williams team boss James Vowles says Formula 1’s “incredibly tight” midfield battle justified his difficult decision to sideline Logan Sargeant and assign the American’s chassis to Alex Albon for the remainder of the Australian GP weekend.

Albon’s chassis was damaged beyond immediate repair following the Anglo-Thai racer’s heavy crash in Friday’s opening practice session.

Unfortunately, the Grobe-based outfit does not have at its disposal a third chassis that it could build up for Albon, a plight that Vowles called “unacceptable” for Williams and which has come about as a result of the team’s late production schedule for 2024.

Vowles acknowledged the gravity of the decision, calling it one of the "hardest" he's faced at Williams.

But the cutthroat competition in the lower half of the constructors' championship meant that the team could not afford to lose potential points from their most experienced driver, especially on a track where they believed they had a strong chance to perform well.

“The midfield is so incredibly tight that a point or two or more may make the difference at the end of the season between being 10th or being 6th. The spread of our cars at the moment is milliseconds,” Vowles explained in a video published on social media.

“And as much as it pains me to see a driver that through no fault of their own won't be racing on Sunday, I have to prioritise the team above all else.

“Logan has been tremendous. He's here to support the team in this regard. He's clearly very much hurting as a result of this decision but equally strong in as much as he knows the team above all else is the priority.”

Vowles explained the root cause of the team’s plight and how Williams must ensure in the future that it never again races without a spare chassis.

“As a result of the work that took place across the winter, we stressed the organisation to the absolute limit,” he said. “We pushed everything as far as it could do.

“What it meant, as a result of that, is off the back end of being very late on some of the production, the spare chassis starts to move backwards.

“No team plans to come to an event without a spare chassis. In doing so you create risk. In the absolute best case it's uncomfortable, and in the worst case, one of the cars is not racing. And that's the situation we face today.

“We have to ensure that we never, ever put ourselves in that situation again going forward in the future. We are here to go racing, and to only have one car here on Saturday and Sunday simply isn't what we're built to do.”

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