NOVEMBER 28, 2023
Mercedes plays down Vesti-Williams rumours
Mercedes has played down rumours linking F1 junior driver Frederik Vesti with Logan Sargeant's Williams race seat for 2024.
Although Williams boss James Vowles said in Abu Dhabi that he is still not ready to confirm Sargeant's deal for next year, he has been consistently hinting that the struggling 22-year-old American has done enough to secure a second season.
Then, on the radio after the 2023 season finale on Sunday, Sargeant's race engineer Gaetan Jego told him:
I'm looking forward to next season with you, mate.
The Finnish media source MTV then quoted Vowles' response when asked about the radio message.
It's pointless to get ahead of things, he said.
Whatever happens, Logan has been in our academy for years, and he'll always be a part of it. He's a very fast driver.
Germany's Sport1 also quoted Vowles as saying: "I think you can see signs that he's doing exactly what we need him to do to earn his place.
But we are not yet in a position where we can confirm that at this moment.
If Williams really is still undecided, the obvious top contender to replace him is Danish 21-year-old Vesti, the Formula 2 runner-up who is being strongly supported by Vowles' former Mercedes colleague Toto Wolff.
But Gwen Lagrue, the head of Mercedes' driver development program, played down the prospect of a surprise leap onto the grid with Williams for Vesti in 2024.
Parts of his (F2) season were very strong, Lagrue told Ekstra Bladet newspaper. "Fred finished with six wins, while Theo (Pourchaire) was champion with just one.
But we didn't lose the championship in Abu Dhabi. We lost it at Spa, Zandvoort and Monza. It cost us some momentum and had an impact on the discussions over the summer.
discussions, it is believed, were not just with Williams but also Alfa Romeo-Sauber, who ultimately decided to stick with Chinese Guanyu Zhou for another season.
Vesti will get another run in Mercedes' 2023 car in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
After this, I will sit down with Fred and Dorte (Riis Madsen) and talk about the future, said Lagrue, referring to Vesti and his manager.
But it is already certain that he will be part of the Mercedes family into the future. We have plenty of work for him.