F1: Could American Logan Sargeant score points on home soil at Miami Grand Prix?
The 22-year-old Formula One rookie is facing an uphill battle to earn a top-10 finish in a race taking place in his home state on Sunday
If Formula One rookie Logan Sargeant musters a standout performance at the Miami Grand Prix, it will make for quite the story.
The 22-year-old was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, approximately 18 miles away from the track he'll be flying around on Sunday. He's a massive Miami Heat fan and the first American to appear in F1 since Alexander Rossi had a five-race stint in 2015.
Sargeant will have a significant contingent of family and friends cheering him on during his homecoming race, as well as a crowd that's likely to be kind to a fellow Floridian. If his helmet for the race is any indication, he's happy to play up the hometown angle.
This one’s for the 305 🌴 pic.twitter.com/GggB1ntTxi
— Logan Sargeant (@LoganSargeant) May 4, 2023
Whether he can convert all the goodwill into a special result is an open question.
In order to answer it, we first need to understand what would constitute a notable success for Sargeant. As much as a win on home soil would mean, that's simply not in the cards barring something so unforeseen it's unprecedented.
BetMGM is listing his odds of a win at +100000, which gives a Sargeant victory an implied probability of 0.1%. That's primarily because of the Williams car he's in.
While the team has a storied history, it hasn't won a race since 2012, finishing last in the constructors championship in four of the past five seasons. Even if Sargeant was as skilled as Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton, he'd be hard pressed to get to the front of the field with this Williams.
That may seem grim, but Sargeant enters this race with a different goal in mind: scoring the first point — or points — of his Formula One career. Even that won't be easy, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.
Below is the case for and against Sargeant becoming a hometown hero and enjoying a major career milestone with a top-10 finish in Miami.
How Sargeant could earn points at Miami GP
Chaos is a ladder, and if the 2022 Miami GP is anything to go off of, things could get chaotic on Sunday.
In the inaugural edition of the race, five of the 20 drivers who started did not finish due to multiple collisions. Prior to the race, the 14th corner gave the field all kinds of headaches in practice.
Things can get tricky at Turn 14 in Miami 👀#MiamiGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/pZt8lFlS6g
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 2, 2023
The more unpredictable this race gets the better the outcome is likely to be for Sargeant.
Last year, teammate Alex Albon scored two of the four points he managed all season in Miami largely due to the fact that consistent top-10 finishers like Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris were out of the picture. Lance Stroll was also able to grab points despite failing to do so in 15 of his other 21 races.
Perhaps resurfacing the track will calm things down, but this is still a tough circuit the drivers are fairly unfamiliar with. It would be surprising to see everyone in the field escape unscathed.
The case for Sargeant doesn't solely rely on others' misfortune. His Williams car is not one of the premier vehicles in the paddock, but it's shown surprising signs of life this year.
Albon has already gotten a point-scoring performance out of the car once this season. He looked like he was going to add to his total at the Australian Grand Prix before an early crash ruined a promising race that saw him running as high as sixth. Last week, he fell just short, coming 12th in Baku.
Sargeant hasn't been able to match his teammate, but there's some encouraging underlying numbers in his performances. For instance, he's done a good job of moving up the field early in his F1 career, finishing an average of two positions better than he's qualified.
His top speeds at each of the tracks' speed traps are also impressive, consistently ranking among the F1's best in the early going.
There's a lot more to a successful race than producing one split second of elite speed, but Sargeant is clearly capable of getting some pace out of his Williams. In a race with some big straightaways, that could help him put together a strong outing.
What's standing in his way?
Although the Williams has looked much better in 2023 than it did last year, it's still the last-place car on the grid through four races.
Red Bull, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Alpine all have unambiguously superior vehicles — and that's being conservative. So that puts Sargeant, at best, in the 13th-best car on the grid.
Albon is also a possible impediment to getting on the scoreboard as the veteran has come in ahead of the American each time both drivers have finished.
Even putting the hardware aside, Sargeant himself is a bit of a question mark.
Before his F1 debut, he raced only one full season at F2, coming fourth in the drivers championship with two wins in 28 races. That's a fine showing for a 21-year-old figuring out a new level of competition, but he's not a phenom the F1 world has labeled destined for greatness.
Because of a limited track record, he's a hard guy to bet on with the cards stacked against him. On Sunday, that's the position he'll be in.
Should everything go as expected, Sargeant is unlikely to reach a major career milestone and earn his first F1 points. But last year's Miami GP showed that expectations can be shattered at this circuit. If they are, Sargeant could be in a position to make the most of the situation.