Colton Herta’s status is sparking a super-licensing debate among Formula 1 teams

Colton Herta super license

Colton Herta super license

Colton Herta is being considered for drives across the Formula 1 paddock, sparking debate over the American’s ability to obtain the super license required to compete in the global series.

The 22-year-old Californian and IndyCar star was repeatedly mentioned as a candidate for a place at AlphaTauri next season. A sticking point remains Herta’s lack of a super license and speculation that the F1 board may consider granting Herta an exemption.

This idea was rejected by the team bosses at the Dutch Grand Prix.

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“You have to keep in mind that we made the super license and points decision to protect F1 and the drivers, to avoid having 10 drivers with big budgets and no past results coming into F1 and taking 50 % of the grid,” said Alfa Romeo Team Principal Fred Vasseur on Saturday. “We did it on purpose. And I think it was a good decision.”

Drivers must earn 40 points to earn a Super License based on their top three performances over the previous four seasons. Herta is expected to have just 32 points ahead of 2023 and while he can earn points by attending F1 practice sessions, he currently has no sessions scheduled this year despite having a testing deal with McLaren.

Anyway, he is unlikely to reach the 40-point mark and there is debate as to whether the International Automobile Federation (FIA) could use force majeure to grant Herta a super license.

“In my view, this has nothing to do with force majeure,” said Vasseur. “If the FIA ​​​​wants to stop the points and super license process now, that’s a different story. They can do it, it’s up to them to decide if they want to stop the system. And we can survive without the system. But for me that has nothing to do with force majeure.”

Vasseur has more information about Herta’s status than others because Michael Andretti tried to buy Alfa last season and put Herta in one of the spots.

“We had talks with Andretti last year. It is no secret. Herta was on the table and he wasn’t eligible for a super license at that point,” Vasseur said.

The problem is that the FIA ​​doesn’t govern IndyCar, so it doesn’t rate it as highly as other global series – making it harder for IndyCar drivers to earn a super license. Currently on the IndyCar grid are former F1 drivers Romain Grosjean, Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, whose 2015 season was the last time an American was on the F1 grid.

Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard, both contenders for Rookie of the Year, came from the European junior ranks and Ilott was in the Ferrari pipeline.

Haas boss Guenther Steiner said he was not part of the process that drafted the current rules but was willing to listen to suggestions for revising the licensing system.

“I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Oh, an IndyCar race, we know it’s that good.’ You can’t compare that,” said Steiner. “If we want to change the rule, let’s discuss it, you know, and then fix it for the future if you think it’s wrong. But there has to be an agreement between the parties involved.”

Steiner, who also said the team was still undecided on re-signing Mick Schumacher, noted that the lack of the super license kept Herta off Haas’ list of prospects. The Haas Team is owned by American businessman Gene Haas and is operated in part from its North Carolina campus shared with his NASCAR team.

“He’s not on the list at the moment because he doesn’t have a super license,” said Steiner, adding that Haas only considers drivers with F1 experience. “Right now we’re looking more at someone who’s already been in Formula 1, so (Herta) didn’t make the list and he doesn’t have a super license.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl worked with Herta on a two-day test in Portugal in July, where Herta impressed with his preparation and on-track performance. It was this test that perhaps sparked interest in bringing it into F1 and Seidl said McLaren was open to adapting the licensing system.

McLaren is currently running an IndyCar program that will expand to three teams next year.

“I think the IndyCar Championship is a high profile, very competitive championship with top drivers and so I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t make sure that competitive drivers over there can’t move to Formula 1.” , said Seidl. “Absolutely open to some flexibility when it comes to giving a guy like Colton the super license because at the end of what he’s shown in his racing career so far I have no doubt he’s absolutely capable of being in to compete in F1.”

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