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F1 | Exclusive interview with Jost Capito: "Having Logan Sargeant in FP1 in Austin, for sure puts a lot of pressure on him."

Williams Racing Team Principal Jost Capito discussed exclusively with Motorlat: the spirit of Frank Williams; his thoughts on Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi as well as the upcoming Free Practice One session in Austin for Logan Sargeant.

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F1 | Exclusive interview with Jost Capito: "Having Logan Sargeant in FP1 in Austin, for sure puts a lot of pressure on him."
Fuente imagen: williamsf1.com

Earlier this month, Williams Racing Team Principal, Jost Capito, sat down for an exclusive interview with Motorlat. In today’s second account of our conversation, which took place on the weekend of the Dutch Grand Prix, Capito discusses the spirit of Frank Williams; his thoughts on Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi as well as the upcoming Free Practice One session in Austin for Logan Sargeant.

Back in August 2021, Williams announced that its Formula 1 team had been sold to American private investment firm Dorilton Capital. Despite the sale, Dorilton Capital was keen to make clear that the much-loved racing outfit would retain its identity and its name. A significant name as the legacy of Sir Frank Williams was one which saw nine F1 Constructors’ Championships and seven F1 drivers' titles claimed by his team.

The name Williams became even more beloved following the passing of Sir Frank Williams in November last year. With this in mind, Motorlat asked Williams Racing Team Principal Jost Capito how the team has changed in the last year and a half since he joined and if he had been able to instill the Williams family spirit despite it no longer having a physical presence there.

“First, the spirit of Frank and the family we are keeping, and we will always keep. I think we have to get the attitudes of Frank also back. I think the team suffered a lot because they couldn't invest financially in the last years as maybe the other teams did without falling behind. If that's the case, then also the ambitions they go down with it because you know you can't compete as you just do not have the financials to compete and I think that needed, then again you know, up beefing the team and really encourage the team and show that we can do better. Especially with Dorilton coming in supporting us and giving us a chance to get back up.” Capito explained.

Having been in battle at the back of the grid for several seasons now and propping up the bottom of the F1 Constructors’ Championship in two of the last three years, Capito is also aware that a shift in mindset to become winners again is also required. “That needs a bit of a culture change as well to say, ‘look now we can invest we have the chance to move forward again’. That needed some changes and some also would say, as the investment hasn't been there for a couple of years, it needs a time to catch up and to see that these investments are done to catch up.” However, it’s not just obvious investments which have been taking place recently within the halls of Williams Racing, it's in ERP [Enterprise Resource Planning] systems in software, in tools and so on. As Capito states “it's not visible to the outside but internally we're making huge steps towards catching up.”

Even so, in 2022, Williams Racing find themselves languishing bottom of the F1 Constructors’ Championship. However, even though points may not have always followed on a regular basis, the team has been competitive on numerous occasions with Alex Albon at the wheel. Therefore, it was not a surprise to see them sign the Thai-British racer to a multi-year deal. Capito explained the motivation behind getting the signature of the former Red Bull racer on the contract. “I think we expected a lot from Alex this year, when we signed him last year, but he exceeded the expectations.” Capito also remarked on how right a fit Albon is for the team which once again showed the need for his drivers to fit the culture and have the right mindset.

“He is a fantastic team player, and he is a very nice person I think he fits to the team as let's say our culture that we are pushing to be having the team. He 100% represents this culture and also he's very focused and in the car he's also aggressive and I think the performances he has shown with us this year were more than justifying a multi-year contract with him.” Capito said.

This interview took place prior to Alex Albon’s enforced absence from the Italian Grand Prix due to health reasons. As has been well documented, Nyck de Vries, who substituted for Albon in Monza, more than played his part coming home in P9 at Monza and scoring two Championship points on his debut race. This performance has heaped pressure onto Nicholas Latifi, a man who started karting aged 13 and still made it into Formula One.

Motorlat asked Jost Capito (in the weeks before the de Vries masterclass) whether he felt it was a disadvantage for Latifi to have missed out on some elements of a racing education due to not battling through the ranks at the age of 6-7.

“I think it's not. You don't have to start at age 6 or 7 if you have a huge talent it's early enough if you start in your teens. But in general, I think that the improvement curve has to be faster and bigger and of course you need a lot of talent if you want to get into Formula One anyway. But it's not, if you don't start at six or seven you can't say that you never make it - let's say it like this.”

Whether Capito feels the improvement curve of Nicholas Latifi is ‘faster and bigger’ as expected is unknown. However, with Alex Albon in a race against time to be fit for Singapore and recently commenting in a video message after Monza ‘The goal is to be ready by Singapore, which is going to be tough; it’s one of the toughest races that we go to, so not an easy one, but let’s aim high and see what happens’ one can imagine Nicholas Latifi eager to see his regular teammate back alongside him.

Nonetheless, the competition for a seat on an F1 starting grid doesn’t stop there as the Canadian driver also has the talent of Formula 2 racer and Williams Driver Academy member Logan Sargeant to contend with. The American will get behind the wheel of the FW44 at his home race during Free Practice One in Austin. In doing so, Logan Sargeant will become the first American to feature on track in an F1 weekend since 2015. However, Motorlat asked Capito whether a venue less under the spotlight would be preferable for Sargeant?

“I prefer to throw somebody in the water to learn swimming and if you want to be in Formula One, you have as a driver, you have to be capable of resisting a lot of pressure and taking a pressure to your advantage and not to your disadvantage. I think that is the key and with having him in the FP1, first FP1 in Austin, for sure puts a lot of pressure on him but as we believe he will be in Formula One in the future he's capable of that. He has to show that in situations that are very challenging, and I think that's a good opportunity for him to show how he can handle the highest pressure and we, as we are aware what pressure that puts on him, you know we can prepare him properly and he knows that we are backing him up.” Capito concluded.

How Nicholas Latifi responds to the pressure he is under remains to be seen. However, Williams Racing is clearly a team with a lot of talent at its disposal. The shift in mindset is coming through, the team is on an upward trajectory and with Jost Capito in charge the expectation is higher than ever.

Sir Frank Williams would no doubt be proud to see his team in such safe hands and it may be only a matter of years before Williams is back battling at the front where they belong.


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