F1 racing is surging in popularity in the United States. Spurred by the popularity of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive, the high-octane docu-series now filming its fifth season, new audiences in the U.S. are finally finding a sport that’s wildly popular across the globe. As a result, the U.S. now boasts a record three F1 races on its calendar: one in Miami, held for the first time last May; one in Austin, on October 23; and a new race in Las Vegas, scheduled for November 23, 2023.
With the uptick in F1 interest from US fans, the search for an American driver that can compete at the highest level is heating up. It’s thought that a driver from the States could elevate the sport’s profile even further. Williams Racing might be close to an answer with Logan Sargeant, the Florida-born driver now racing on the FIA Formula 2 circuit, who is part of its young Driver Academy programme, designed to find the stars of tomorrow. Fans will be able to catch him making his F1 Austin debut during Free Practice 1 on Friday, October 21. Sargeant is coming in hot, with four podium appearances and two wins in the F2 season thus far. Could he be the next American F1 star? See our Q&A below.
Writing New History
As you’ll read in the interview below, Sargeant is stoked. He should be. He’s part of the talent pipeline for Williams Racing, joining a long list of legendary names like Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, and Jacques Villeneuve. Founded in 1977, the Williams Racing team boasts 16 FIA F1 World Championship titles. And, while the team hasn’t hung with names like Red Bull and Ferrari lately, Williams is in a period of transformation. The British operation was purchased by American firm Dorilton Capital in 2020, which has invested in the team with the goal of returning to glory with a new Anglo-American flavor.
Finding the Fans
F1 tickets are tough to get hold of – the Austin race, for example, has been sold out for months. But Williams Racing is bringing part of the experience to fans off-track, with the Williams Racing Experience, a pop-up base for the team featuring driver appearances, a show car, simulator rigs, reaction games, a merchandise store and much more. In Austin, you’ll find the Williams Racing Experience at 800 Congress Avenue, open from Wednesday, October 19th through race day, Sunday, October 23. Find out more at www.williamsf1.com
Ready to Rock
Williams Racing will also celebrate off the racetrack at one of Austin’s famed stages – Austin City Limits Moody Theater. On Friday, October 21, Williams Racing will present DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic Live, the viral series where superstars Robin Thicke, Wyclef Jean and Shaggy will sing some of their biggest hits along with the DJ and MC. There will also be opportunities to mingle with familiar faces from Williams Racing, including their Brand Ambassador and 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button. Get tickets here.
Q&A: Logan Sargeant
Coming in to Austin, how has your year been?
Starting the season, I didn’t really put any expectation on it. It was simply a year to learn as much as I could and perform as best as I possibly could. We’ve had a really strong pace throughout the season, which is always important. And obviously, we’ve gotten a couple feature race wins under our belt. In general, it’s been everything I could have hoped for.
Last year, you joined Williams Driver Academy. What does that entail?
It’s basically the Williams Formula 1 junior team. Their goal is to help shape me to be the best driver and person that I can be. They gave me my first Formula 1 test last December, and they’ve given me a lot of days on the sim this year.
What have you learned with Williams?
I’ve learned a lot about myself, to be honest. Mentally just being able to build myself and reassure and show myself that I can do it at this level, and have no doubt that I can do it week in and week out at the pace necessary. In terms of developing my racecraft, I’ve learned a lot about the tire. To make it in Formula 1, tire management is crucial.
There’s been a lot of emphasis trying to find an American driver that will take F1 to the next level of popularity here. You’re often mentioned as a possibility of being “the one.” Does that possibility excite you?
To be honest, I just see myself as another driver. I don’t really put too much emphasis on where I’m from. If I do my job and I put in the hard work, as I’ve done for the past 12 years, then I believe eventually I’ll make it.
Drive to Survive has led to the growth of F1 in the US. What’s that been like to watch? Is it a distorted picture of what happens behind the scenes?
They hype up the drama, which is understandable. It’s a TV show. But the most important thing that comes out of it is more young fans and more female fans getting some insight into the sport.
In Austin, you’ll be in the cockpit of an F1 car for just the second time. What’s that going to feel like? The feeling is almost indescribable. An F1 car is so much better than anything I’ve ever driven in terms of power, grip, aero, and brakes. It’s just a difficult feeling to describe. But the adrenaline rush is next level. I enjoy that adrenaline pump, for sure. I expect it to be one of the most enjoyable days of my career.