Why Williams has made a brutal F1 driver sacrifice at Australian GP

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Logan Sargeant will have to miss Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix as Williams is giving his chassis to Alex Albon following Albon’s crash in practice.

Albon had to miss FP2 on Friday in Melbourne after a heavy shunt in the opening session.

He ran over the exit kerb at the fast Turn 6 right-hander, lost control of the car and slammed into the wall on the right-hand side, then slid across the track into the wall on the right hand side as well.

The impact caused extensive damage to the Williams, including breaking the new gearbox that was in Albon’s car for this event, and the chassis cannot be repaired at the track.

That has forced Williams to pick between its drivers for the rest of the weekend because it is in the unusual position of lacking a spare chassis at round three.

Williams had a bad winter plagued by production delays that put its car build behind schedule.

It has been impacted by that early on by not being able to pursue development parts that should be on the car already, but another consequence exposed by this situation is the absence of a spare chassis.

Williams team principal James Vowles admitted that is “unacceptable in modern day Formula 1” and is “a reflection of how behind we were in the winter period and an illustration of why we need to go through significant change in order to get ourselves in a better position for the future”.

The team effectively gambled on making it through the opening phase of the season without a big accident, which Albon has now suffered.

With no spare, Williams has taken the decision to switch Albon’s assigned components – his power unit and the new gearbox he needs – to Sargeant’s chassis, forcing the second-year driver to stand down for the remainder of the weekend.

Albon being prioritised despite the crash being his mistake means Williams recognises Albon is its best chance of scoring points in the grand prix.

The group of five teams in the lower part of F1’s midfield looks especially closely matched this season and though Williams is yet to finish in the top 10 so far Williams has hopes of being more competitive in Melbourne.

The more experienced Albon, who scored 27 of its 28 points last year, has looked the most likely of the two drivers to score points in 2024 with Sargeant comfortably outqualified and outraced by Albon in the two events so far.

“While Logan should not have to suffer from a mistake that he did not make, every race counts when the midfield is tighter than ever, so we have made the call based on our best potential to score points this weekend,” said Vowles.

“This decision was not made lightly, and we cannot thank Logan enough for his graceful acceptance, demonstrating his dedication to the team; he is a true team player.

“This will prove a tough weekend for Williams, and this situation is not one that we will put ourselves in again.”

Sargeant was 13th fastest in FP2, just under four tenths slower than 10th-placed Yuki Tsunoda.

He called this “the hardest moment I can remember in my career and it’s absolutely not easy” but pledged to “to contribute in any way that I can this weekend to maximise what we can do”

Albon said: “I have to be totally honest and say that no driver would want to give up his seat. I would never want anything like this to happen.

“Logan has always been a consummate professional and a team player from day one, and this won’t be an easy one for him to take.

“At this point though, I cannot dwell on the situation and my only job now is to maximise our potential this weekend and work with the whole team to make sure we do the best job possible.”



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