There was a super lot to unpack after Sunday's Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. As the teams head from the Circuit of the Americas, outside Austin, Texas, to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, in Mexico City, for the Oct. 30 Mexican Grand Prix, let's take a moment and address some of the things learned and go over what was announced at the COTA.
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Williams make it official with Sargeant
Logan Sargeant became the first U.S. driver to participate at an F1 session since 2015 when he took out the Williams FW44 on Friday at the COTA. Sargeant must've impressed mightily. Williams Team Principal Jost Capito quickly announced that the 21-year-old will step up from Formula 2 for a full-time ride with Williams in 2023 should he acquire his Super License from the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) by season's end.
"Yeah, we feel he's ready to race," Capito told formula1.com. "Under the condition that he has enough Super License points after [the] Abu Dhabi [Grand Prix], he will be our second driver next year."
Williams plans for Sargeant to also participate in the opening practice sessions at Mexico and Abu Dhabi.
Currently third in the F2 standings, Sargeant needs to finish around fifth or sixth to acquire the 40 points required to secure the Super License. Should that happen, then look for Sargeant to partner the 26-year-old Alexander Albon on the 2023 grid for Williams next season.
"Alex is still young, but also already a very experienced driver," Capito said. "He has established himself so well in the team, and he has given fantastic results. He's working well with the team, so we can put a rookie alongside him."
Budget-gate debate continues
During the team principal's media conference at Austin, Red Bull Racing's Christian Horner said that they were hoping to put questions about RBR exceeding the 2021 budget in the rear-view mirror as fast as possible.
"We're hoping to get closure on that, and at that point in time, then all the facts will be laid on the table and we'll be able to talk very openly about the cap, and why we feel that our relevant costs are fully in-line," Horner explained. "We're in the process. We're working with the FIA."
Zak Brown of McLaren acknowledged the need for the FIA to get this right, but also said that while teams want some sort of firm response, it was never discussed with them fully just what the ramifications of exceeding the budget cap would be.
"I think we need to wait for the FIA and Red Bull to finish up the process that they're in," Brown said before adding later, "It's not for McLaren to decide [Red Bull Racing] have or haven't [exceeded the budget], but to put forward now that we understand the ramifications if you go over, what some of those benefits can be and how we should address them.
"We never really spoke about what would be some of the potential consequences."
In a letter to the FIA and a few other team principals, Brown made it clear that McLaren consider overspending to be breaking the rules.
"My letter was, if someone has, then here are the things that we think should be addressed," he explained. "It's no different than if a ride height is incorrect, or a flexi-wing, or whatever the case may be."
- Speculation continues to swirl around Daniel Ricciardo's post-McLaren career, and word from the Australian's camp is that he may continue in Formula 1 in 2023 but in a reserve driver role. Some are saying it might even be at Red Bull Racing.
- Alex Palou took in Free Practice 1 with McLaren. Still under contract to Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar team through 2023, Palou was one of five drivers who participated in Friday's Free Practice 1 at the COTA in place of a team's regular driver: Palou stood in for Ricciardo at McLaren, Robert Shwartzman for Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, Sargeant in place of Nicholas Latifi at Williams, Theo Pourchaire in place of Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo and Antonio Giovinazzi for Kevin Magnussen at Haas.
- Also seen around the paddock and the garages was Michael Andretti, owner of Andretti Autosport, who has not given up on his dream of Formula 1 team ownership. Andretti is a close friend of Brown at McLaren. Michael's father, Mario, is the last U.S. driver to find success in Formula 1, driving the Lotus Type 79 to the world championship in 1978 for JPS Team Lotus.