Updated: Feb 9, 2022
Written by Morgan Holiday, Edited by Aziz Mlik
The 2021 FIA Formula 3 season is now over, with Prema Racing’s Dennis Hauger dominating the driver’s title while Trident took home the constructor’s title for the first time in the series. In an exciting and drama-filled season, twelve different drivers managed to stand on the top step of the podium. One of those twelve drivers was Logan Sargeant.
Last year’s title contender, the American Logan Sargeant, finished seventh in the standings, which seems like an unimpressive feat for the driver that could have easily won the 2020 championship. But there’s more to say about Sargeant’s 2021 season, and why, despite the numbers, it might be his most impressive one yet.
It’s crucial to begin by studying Sargeant’s junior career to understand his story. In 2015 Sargeant became the first American to win the Kart Federation Junior Championship since Lake Speed won it in 1978. From there, he raced in the Formula 4 UAE Championship, where he finished second in the series. The following year, he finished third in the F4 British Championship. In 2018 he raced in Formula Renault Eurocup, before joining Formula 3 with Carlin Buzz Racing in 2019. Aside from a podium at the Macau Grand Prix that year, Sargeant’s first season of Formula 3 was relatively unimpressive, finishing 19th in the standings with five points to his name.
But for the 2020 Formula 3 season, Sargeant signed with Prema Racing, the most dominant team in all the Formula 1 feeder series. Having also signed Oscar Piastri and Frederik Vesti, the Italian team claimed the team championship over Trident by more than 200 points. But the driver’s title that year was much more competitive, with Piastri and Sargeant headed into the final race of the season at Mugello tied on points for the lead, and ART’s Théo Pourchaire also in contention. After Sargeant was taken out on the first lap of the race, Pourchaire finished second overall in the standings while Piastri took the title.
But third place in the standings doesn’t tell the whole story of Sargeant’s season with Prema. He took two wins, the same number as Piastri and Pourchaire, as well as three pole positions, more than any other driver that season. But Piastri won in the end, and consequently made the step up to Formula 2 with Prema for 2021, taking Mick Schumacher’s place alongside Robert Schwartzman.
Unfortunately for Sargeant, in order to make the jump to Formula 2, you need something he didn’t have: money. Any given driver in Formula 2 has to pay upwards of €1 million for a spot at one of the teams. Even a return to Formula 3 was looking unlikely, and the American was looking elsewhere for opportunities to race. And then, the week of Round 1 of the 2021 Formula 3 season, he was announced at Charouz Racing System alongside Enzo Fittipaldi and Reshad De Gerus. This move would be a step down from Sargeant’s previous team, but he took the opportunity to stay within the Formula 1 feeder series for another season.
In the 2020 Formula 3 season, Charouz finished last in the team standings, with five points to their name. 2021 saw the Czech team leap up to fifth in the standings, having scored a total of 127 points. Enzo Fittipaldi scored 25 of those points, with the other 102 claimed by Sargeant. Without his points, the team would have had the same number of points as Carlin, who finished last in the standings. Instead, they climbed halfway up the ladder, an impressive jump for a team with nothing to show for its two previous years in the series. Sargeant not only gifted the team their highest points score in Formula 3, but also their first podium and first win.
The key to Formula 3 with the 2021 format is to qualify in the top twelve, as the positions of those drivers are reversed for the sprint race grids. Even though the Charouz car wasn’t really fast enough to qualify anywhere near the points, Sargeant managed to be in the top twelve every single qualifying session, something not even the championship winner managed to do. He had a best qualifying result of fifth place and a worst of twelfth. His quick pace in qualifying allowed him to start much higher in the sprint races, which earned him many of his best results.
Sargeant’s first podium of the season, and the team’s first Formula 3 podium ever, was third place in sprint race 1 in Round 3 at Austria, which was taken away after he was one of eight drivers to receive a post-race time penalty for exceeding track limits. He then went on to score a podium in every round for the rest of the season, taking third place in both Hungary and Belgium, second place at Zandvoort, and finally a win in Sochi. Those performances, along with the fact that he only finished two races outside of the points, gave him seventh in the standings when all was said and done. Although Prema came close to winning the team championship that season, Sargeant still managed to outscore two of his ex-team’s drivers, with Hauger’s teammates Olli Caldwell and Arthur Leclerc finishing eighth and tenth respectively.
Despite almost winning the championship in 2020 and massively outperforming his car in 2021, whether or not Sargeant will make the step up to Formula 2 is still unknown. Financially speaking, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to unless someone steps in. Formula 1 has been vocal about its interest in having an American driver on the grid, and yet the most promising American talent in the feeder series is on the verge of losing his chance at a seat. In order for Sargeant to have a chance at a Formula 2 seat, someone will likely have to sponsor him.
Sargeant’s other option would be to join a driver academy, should one be interested in signing him. Mclaren currently only has one junior driver in its academy, Ugo Ugochukwu, a thirteen-year-old American karter. Although the Formula 1 team seems set with its current lineup for some time to come, having a driver higher up in the junior categories could be beneficial to the team, and American CEO Zak Brown could very well be interested in some more American talent. The only other academy Sargeant could likely join would be the Williams Driver Academy. Having recently dropped Dan Ticktum from its programme, Williams team principal Jost Capito has stated interest in developing “a serious and proper junior programme.”
Even if Sargeant receives backing from a Formula 1 academy, he will most likely still need sponsorship money to join Formula 2, as most junior academies don’t fund their drivers’ seats. If there is a rich American out there looking to get one of their country’s drivers into Formula 1, now is their chance. Sargeant has the pace and the talent, all he needs is the money.