F1: FIA will not bend rules for Colton Herta, he’s out (Update)

Colton Herta’s switch from IndyCar to F1 with AlphaTauri has collapsed as Red Bull has called off its plans to hire the American IndyCar driver.

The Andretti Autosport star had been in line to replace Pierre Gasly at the sister Red Bull team, with the Frenchman then released to join Alpine and partner countryman Esteban Ocon.

Herta’s move, however, was unlikely from the get-go due to insufficient Superlicense points gathered from the past three IndyCar seasons, despite collecting seven race victories in the highly-competitive American series.

Whilst criticism has come in for the Superlicense points structure, the obstacles in the way for Red Bull have led to the team abandoning its efforts in signing Herta.

Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko has suggested a missed opportunity for F1.

“It’s a shame that people don’t realize what value an American driver, especially a guy like Colton Herta, would have for the booming American market, especially with three F1 races [in the US],” said Marko to Motorsport-Total.

Marko said it was “incomprehensible” that a winner of seven IndyCar races had to prove his qualification to safely drive an F1 car due to a bureaucratic points system, especially since he could easily have run in a number of free practice sessions to further prepare himself for his first race.

The collapse of the deal now blocks Gasly’s Alpine switch, leaving the French manufacturer in the market for a second driver after the Fernando Alonso-Oscar Piastri fiasco that caught it unawares.

The breakdown also stops plans for Herta to test with Alpine as a way of helping negotiate the Superlicense requirements.

September 11, 2022 

(GMM) Colton Herta’s Formula 1 dream may have to wait for now.

It appears increasingly unlikely that rival teams, Formula 1 and the FIA will intervene to allow the IndyCar star to secure an Alpha Tauri seat next year with a super license exemption.

Nyck de Vries, a favorite to step up to F1 next year who is getting his chance at Monza this weekend while Williams’ Alex Albon has appendix surgery, agrees that allowing Herta to sidestep the rules would be unfair.

“It will give an incorrect precedent and would be a shame if we jeopardize our system,” said the Mercedes-backed Dutchman.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto agrees.

“I think force majeure cannot be used for Herta,” he said at Monza. “Regulations are in place in order to protect our sport.

“He may participate in the championship when he’s got what are the requirements to do so.”

Colton Herta – Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, viewed as equivalent to an F3 series when it comes to earning Super License points. – Photo By_ James Black

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, however, is continuing to push the issue, as it would allow Alpha Tauri to secure an exciting prospect from the key American market.

He says the FIA should take a retrospective look at one of Herta’s formative seasons in the Indy Lights series and allocate a few more super license ‘points’.

Newly crowned Indy Lights champion Christian Lundgaard has a F1 Super License because he came up through the European Ladder System. But not Colton Herta because he races in lowly rated IndyCar

“The FIA needs to respond to this, as the driver had no control over the number of drivers that were in that championship,” said the Austrian.

“He can therefore get a super license without violating any regulations.”

It now emerges that Alpine – who want Herta to get the green light so that Pierre Gasly is released from his Red Bull commitments – is being lined up to give the 22-year-old American a test in the coming days in Hungary.

“Pierre Gasly is a very good candidate for us,” the Renault-owned team’s CEO Laurent Rossi is quoted by L’Equipe.

However, Alpine appears to already looking beyond the Gasly option – like immediately promoting the increasingly impressive son of MotoGP legend Mick Doohan.

“My future?” said the Alpine-backed 19-year-old Australian Jack Doohan at Monza.

“It motivates me more to be talked about for that seat, but I am only focused on F2,” he insisted. “We’ll talk at the end of the year if the F1 team wants me.”

Jack Doohan

Doohan may indeed be called up by Alpine, as an FIA spokesman said ahead of the Italian GP that it is unlikely to intervene in the Colton Herta case.

“The FIA president has put in place a reliable mechanism that we will comply with,” the spokesman said.

For his part, Herta says he can “understand” why drivers like de Vries are arguing that the precise letter of the law regarding F1 super licenses must be followed.

“I’d rather not get an exemption,” he said at this weekend’s Laguna Seca finale of the 2022 IndyCar Series. “I’m not sure that’s really the way I’d like to do it.

“I understand both sides of the argument. In one sense, they want guys to go over there and race the ladder series. It also seems a little disrespectful to IndyCar to give so few points for us.

“But I can understand both sides of the argument.”


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