Williams has given another clear indication that Logan Sargeant will not be ousted at the end of the season.
The race seat alongside the on-form Alex Albon is the final vacancy on the grid for 2024, and 22-year-old American Sargeant has been making high profile mistakes lately.
“We will give Logan the chance to prove himself until the end of the season,” team boss James Vowles told Blick newspaper a few days ago at Suzuka.
“Other drivers I can think of were given two years to do that,” he added, probably referring to Haas refugee Mick Schumacher who is in talks about a move to the world endurance championship with Alpine for 2024.
The well-backed Brazilian rookie Felipe Drugovich is being linked with Sargeant’s place – but after Sargeant’s latest crashes in Japan, Vowles defended him.
“He (Sargeant) did the three practice sessions at Suzuka as I would hope from him,” he said. “In his Q1 lap, he was almost exactly as fast as Alex up until the accident.
“That shows that he has the speed.”
For his part, Sargeant has admitted that he is under instructions from Williams to show “constant improvement” at every race “from now until the end of the season”.
And the team’s vehicle performance boss Dave Robson thinks he is meeting the brief – despite the high-profile crashes and speculation about the last unconfirmed cockpit on next year’s grid.
“It obviously makes the headlines, doesn’t it?” he is quoted by France’s Auto Hebdo.
“I think it (the crashes) have masked his consistent performance a bit,” Robson insisted. “The weekend (in Japan) was going really well.
“Suzuka is a really tough circuit and he did really well on Friday, giving him a solid base for Saturday. Then losing the car in the very last corner of the first lap (of qualifying) was really a minor mistake.
“It’s just that in that corner, once you hit the grass – it was a real shame. But I think it’s fair to say that the crashes since Zandvoort have masked what has otherwise been steady progress,” Robson said.