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Vowles insists he still ‘believes’ in Sargeant as he reveals American’s reaction after handing car to Albon

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Williams team boss James Vowles has shared some more details behind the decision to put Alex Albon in Logan Sargeant’s car for the remainder of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, saying the American took the news “with far more maturity than I would have done” in his position.

The situation came about after Albon crashed out of FP1 and damaged his chassis beyond repair, with Williams unable to bring a spare to Albert Park amid a compromised winter of development and therefore meaning they could only field one car for the rest of the event.

READ MORE: Albon to take over Sargeant’s car for remainder of Australia GP weekend after FP1 shunt

After some deliberations, Vowles opted to bench Sargeant in favour of Albon taking over his team mate’s FW46, a move Sargeant described as “the hardest moment I can remember in my career” so far.

Speaking to media on Saturday, Vowles reiterated that, based on their time together so far, Albon rather than Sargeant gives Williams the “highest probability” of scoring valuable points, before opening up on how the last 24 hours have unfolded.

Quizzed on how he broke the decision to Sargeant, Vowles said: “I asked him to come and see me yesterday. I took him through where he’s been, where he was in FP2, where we need to be, the probability of scoring points this weekend...

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2024 Australian GP FP1: Albon crash brings out the red flags in first practice

“This is ultimately one of the weirdest sports in the world, but one of the reasons why I enjoy it is it’s a team sport but with two drivers fighting against each other. For the team, this is what we need to be doing this weekend.

“He took it with far more maturity than I would have done at his age and, in fact, more so than that, his response after a considered moment was one more of ‘how do I help, how do I move forward with the team?’ fundamentally. You’ll see that in the press release, you’ll see that in his actions I hope across the next 24 hours or so.

READ MORE: Williams boss Vowles labels Albon/Sargeant chassis swap situation in Melbourne ‘unacceptable in modern day F1’

“Again, as I said, his ethic is incredibly strong in that regard. How he will be as an individual is, without doubt... you will always question yourself in all of these [situations]. But all I did is lay out the facts to him of he has improved, he is closer to Alex than before, but he’s not quite at the leading edge and in front of Alex.

“That’s what I need [from him] in this circumstance. We’ll reflect on that and understand that but also set the challenge for himself of where he needs to be in the future.”

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Williams boss James Vowles explains his decision to hand Sargeant’s car to Albon in Melbourne

Vowles was then asked whether he has faith that the 23-year-old – who was the final driver to be confirmed on the 2024 grid – can make the progress required to ensure that, in a repeat scenario going forward, he would keep the car.

“Everything I do, boringly, is based on data and statistics – nothing more than that,” added Vowles. “So, it should be based on the driver that is performing the best is the one that you’ll put your backing behind – simple as that.

READ MORE: ‘Consummate professional’ Sargeant calls giving up car to Albon in Australia ‘the hardest moment in my career’

“In the case of Logan, I haven’t changed my mind. I’ve signed him and I’ve put my full weight behind him because I believe in him. I’d also argue, if you look at his results this year, he’s been within milliseconds of Alex.

“The gap [between them] has closed down as I expected it to, but in the circumstance he’s not quite on the leading edge, that’s the key behind it is the challenge set to him.”

Williams head into the Melbourne weekend as one of four teams, along with Kick Sauber, RB and Alpine, yet to score a point so far this season, with Haas sitting just ahead in the constructors’ standings after Nico Hulkenberg’s P10 finish in Saudi Arabia.

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