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Sargeant hoping his Williams has no major damage after late gravel trap trip at Suzuka

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 6: Logan Sargeant of USA and Williams Racing during qualifying ahead of the

After two heavy crashes already for Williams in Japan, hearts were in mouths in the team garage on Sunday when Logan Sargeant flew off track and into the gravel trap late in the race – but the American reckons his car escaped without any "major" damage and won't contribute to the team's chassis shortage.

After controversy last time out in Australia when team boss James Vowles opted to take Sargeant's car and hand it to Alex Albon – who had crashed his own in free practice – there was more trouble for Williams at Suzuka when Sargeant crashed in first practice.

EXPLAINED: Why Williams will be worried about Albon's Suzuka shunt – and what it could mean for the rest of the season

Albon then had a major crash in the race, leaving the team – who were already without a spare chassis – on the back foot again.

Sargeant then had another off in the latter stages of the race, but is confident his car will escape with nothing worse than some "gravel rash".

The American’s race certainly started brighter than his team mate’s, as he kept out of trouble at both restarts to run towards the back of the midfield.

2024 Japanese Grand Prix: Ricciardo and Albon crash on Lap 1 to bring out the red flags at Suzuka

The team went for the bold strategy call of swapping Sargeant to the hards for the second standing start, which cost him some momentum while those got up to temperature. But he slowly made his way forward, pulling off on-track moves on Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.

Pitting for his first proper stop at the same time as Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll, Williams weren’t quite as quick as their rivals on the stop – and that cost Sargeant positions. Tsunoda’s total pit lane time was 23.358s, while Sargeant’s was 25.530s, and that made all the difference on Sunday when it came to trying to secure that final championship point.

READ MORE: ‘Relieved’ Tsunoda hails 'insane' RB pit stop as he nets a point on home soil

“I think it was a good start, a good first stint, I was trying to do a bit of a bold strategy and I think we could have done it, think it could have worked out but we just got really unlucky at that first pit stop, ended up getting jumped by four instead of jumping four and that obviously can make or break a race,” Sargeant said afterwards.

“Obviously tried to adapt, had another stop, I was pushing hard, trying to catch the cars ahead, giving it everything every lap and unfortunately bottomed on the kerb and just locked up and went straight so yeah, disappointing mistake but I think a positive race knowing that the result could have been there to take.”

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari, Lance

Sargeant came out on the wrong side of this pit lane fight

Sargeant’s mistake came on Lap 41, as he tried to hunt down Nico Hulkenberg ahead. There were no other cars involved, the American just locking up into the tricky Degner 2 and burying himself in the gravel trap, which prompted an unplanned pit stop and relegated Sargeant to the back of the field where he finished.

But after Sargeant made a much more costly error back in FP1, Williams were relieved to see the gravel trap do its job and stop the FW46 well before the barriers – with no lasting damage done.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Japanese Grand Prix as Verstappen wins following early red flag

“I think [the car] should be fine, maybe some gravel rash but nothing major,” said Sargeant, which is good news for a team who already have the tough task of rebuilding Albon’s wrecked car, at a time where they keep having to divert resources away from building that crucial third chassis.

Williams remain without a point in 2024, but didn’t lose ground to Kick Sauber or Alpine, with their rivals also failing to nab any points in Japan.

Sargeant confident there’s no ‘major’ damage to his Williams after his off-track excursion at Suzuka

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