There have been, and always will be, those for whom the everydayness of it all is insufficient. Those who must locate the emotional highs that lay dormant to the rest of us and find ways to extract them; consume them. We’ve all encountered such types, but how many of them are capable of constructing a career, and even notoriety, out of this disposition?
Logan Sargeant, the new face of American Formula 1 Racing, exists amongst this select group. Like every great athlete, he comes to us with that rarest combination of elite timing, strength, endurance, and cognitive wherewithal, but also the want to live life with adrenaline pulsing through the bloodstream. “Once the helmet goes on you don’t hear anything,” Sargeant shares. “When you’re in the car, it’s your one chance to be alone and at peace with yourself. Fortunately, that’s the only time that matters.”
Peace found in the presence of peril. Such a constitution is needed when the smallest mistake at your job can see you shot into a barricade at 150 mph, encircled by sparks, the smell of searing rubber and perhaps fire. Despite his young age, Sargeant is far from new to this world. He speaks thoughtfully and with the composure of a competitor well beyond his years, recalling a racing journey that included a move to Europe at the age of 12. Relocating in search of competition before making his way up the ranks of the formula racing pyramid.
Now at just 22 years old, with a decade in Europe, climbing the ranks and honing his craft, Sargeant has arrived. “I think I was so young I didn’t even understand it,” he says of his move abroad. “I was quite naive as to how big of a transition it was going to be.” He is still half a world away from the white sands and blue waters of South Florida that he calls home and misses daily, but is one of just 20 individuals competing in F1, as well as the first full-time American driver in this highest-class of racing since 2007.
Sargeant’s is not the world of circular racetracks set amongst rural backdrops that might spring to mind for many stateside when asked to envision race car driving. Sargeant’s prowess sees him speed through Monaco’s most opulent streets, along the Saudi Arabian coast and next to the neon high-rises of downtown Singapore. Here is where advertisements for Rolex line the courses and European luxury car brands compete for supremacy: a place where Americans may not always feel welcomed. “I feel like everyone knew that there were Americans who were competitive and capable, but I’m not sure that was necessarily a wanted thing,” Sargeant says candidly. “It was not the fact that people didn’t believe I could do it—I don’t believe people wanted to see an American do it.”
But Sargeant’s foray into F1 has coincided rather perfectly with a significant boost in his sport’s popularity in the US and elsewhere, attributed in part to Netflix’s surprise hit documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Logan Sargeant is here, he is doing it, and with even more eyes on him than he could have even imagined. But with greater exposure comes even greater challenges. There is of course the difficulty that comes with competing at the highest level of a professional sport where the margin for error is nil—a standard Sargeant admits is difficult to internalize. “The surprise was the level of performance needed every time you get behind the wheel,” he says. “You go into it with the expectation that it is going to be the hardest challenge of your career. But I don’t think it really hits you, until you get into it.”
And Sargeant’s game is a unique beast. All of those new viewers tuning into their first race might expect to see a group of competitors, all driving roughly the same car, racing to see who is the most skilled amongst them. Indeed, it often feels as though the popularity of professional athletics rests on such a display of meritocracy. No matter the potential barriers to entry, a basketball used in the NBA Finals is the same as the one you can pick up at your nearest Target. And in those moments of sport- ing greatness, it is strictly the otherworldly talent, drive, fortitude and confidence of the athlete that make them immortal. Such traits cannot be purchased. F1 and those who love it care not for your preconceptions.
Sargeant is a rookie in a team game disguised as an individual one, where hundreds of engineers and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent—and not in equal measure—to build the perfect machine. He is the American face of a sport where die-hards are often as interested in the car being driven as they are the man driving it, and in many ways, their sport of choice is the ideal one for the contemporary age: a pursuit of perfection that is both human and mechanical. As Sargeant affirms, “When you get to F1, the chances of you being in a race-winning car are pretty low...We’re going there with the mindset of getting everything we can out of our car.”
Along with his teammate and fellow Williams Racing driver, Alex Albon, Sargeant is first and foremost focused on excelling for the team and maximizing the vehicle they have built, even if it is a notion lost on many. “It’s pretty split if I’m being honest,” he says. “Half the people know what’s going on, they know that the team is huge and that the car you’re in is huge. But then the other half see it as a level playing field, which is obviously not the case.”
Yet Sargeant remains unbothered, and even when the off-track commitments pile high and the noise grows, his poise never ceases to waiver. Like all great competitors, he seems to maintain the ability to compartmentalize it all and remain focused, view- ing the misconceptions as an inevitable component of his line of work. And when asked to describe his many experiences during his first season in F1 he often returns to one word: special.
It is special racing alongside the best drivers in the world, as was the support of a boisterous hometown crowd during the Miami Grand Prix this past Spring. It is special representing his country on this stage. The relationship he has developed with Alex Albon is special, as is the support of his Williams Racing team and driving the best cars humanity can currently construct. The whirlwind that is Formula 1 would seem poised to ravage the average neophyte that dares enter its arena.
Sargeant, however, maintains a broader perspective and understanding of his sport that would end up lost on most amongst the tumult: “The beauty about racing is that as long as the people who need to know realize that you’re doing a good job,” he concludes. “That you’re progressing and getting everything out of the car that you have, well, that’s all that matters.”
Photographed by Joupin Ghamsari
Styled by Jay Hines
Written by Jake Carlisi
Styling Assistant: Georgia Webby
Location: The Other House South Kensington