Red Bull’s push to put Colton Herta in one of their Formula 1 team cars appears to be over.
The IndyCar driver had been named as a possible candidate for a place in Red Bull’s AlphaTauri junior team for 2023. However, Herta did not automatically qualify for F1 eligibility due to a lack of super license points and Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko said Motorsport Total that the team has abandoned its quest for an exception for Herta.
Now Red Bull has finally given up hope that the FIA Herta could still award a super license: “It’s a shame that you don’t realize the value an American driver, especially a guy like Colton Herta, has for the booming America with would have three races,” confirms motorsport consultant Helmut Marko when asked by “Motorsport-Total.com”.
This means that Herta, 22, will be back at IndyCar in 2023 with Andretti Autosport. He was due to race in an Alpine F1 test this week but that was a scratch.
No American driver has raced full-time in Formula One since Scott Speed in 2006 and Herta could be the best chance for an American to race in Formula One anytime soon. And it establishes that with an American driver in the series and three races in the United States with an additional race in Las Vegas, F1’s explosive American appeal would continue to grow
Herta has won seven IndyCar races over the past four seasons and has finished in the top 10 in points in each of his four full-time seasons in IndyCar. He finished tenth in 2022 with just one race win as Andretti Autosport struggled to keep up with the top teams in the IndyCar Series. Herta got his first taste of Formula 1 in the summer of 2022 when he took part in a two-day test for McLaren after signing a contract with the team.
But Herta only has 32 of the 40 points needed to get his super license and run in F1. Had he finished fourth or better in 2022, he would have met the point minimum. Red Bull had said they were considering filing a COVID-related waiver for Herta, although Bryan Herta – Colton’s father and former IndyCar driver – said he doesn’t want Colton to get an F1 racing exemption in 2023.
If anything, Herta’s situation is a good example of why the Super Licensing system should be re-evaluated and possibly more points awarded for IndyCar performance. It’s hard to argue that Herta doesn’t qualify to get a chance in a Formula 1 car, especially after seeing Nikita Mazepin. A driver who finishes fifth in the Formula 2 standings earns more than twice as many points (20) as a driver who finishes fifth in the IndyCar Series (8).
But at the same time, the qualifying system has been around since 2015 and its rules describing how a driver can race in Formula 1 were very clear. If Herta and Andretti Autosport had had a better season in 2022, this scramble for his super license points could have been avoided.