Formula One’s governing body said on Friday that IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the super license the American needs to compete on the Formula One grid next season.
“The FIA confirms that an inquiry has been made through the appropriate channels which has resulted in the FIA confirming that driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to obtain an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.
The FIA’s decision did not come as a surprise.
Red Bull were interested in the 22-year-old Californian and were considering giving Herta a place in AlphaTauri, their junior team. AlphaTauri has already reported that Pierre Gasly will return next season, while Yuki Tsunoda extended his contract earlier this week.
However, AlphaTauri has admitted that they will release Gasli, who is apparently wanted in Alpine, but only if the car had a persuasive driver, such as Herta. F1 hasn’t had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta didn’t particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.
The question is how the FIA judges IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers are somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series to F1.
IndyCar drivers have criticized Herta’s protection system and tight racing in their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-high eighth in 2020.
Rossi, who spent the last four seasons as Hertha’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, crashed this week because “I’m so sick of this back and forth” regarding licensing.
“The whole point was to stop people buying their way into F1 and let talent be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “It’s great. We all agree that Colton has the talent and ability to be in F1. That’s great too, and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. And the point.
“Motorsport is still the most high-profile sport in the world, where money can trump talent. What is disappointing and, in my opinion, the fundamental problem is that the sporting element has so often been sidelined in comparison to the business, that there has had to be a method for certain teams to stop taking pilots based solely on their financial support.”
Rossi added that those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, cost Colton the opportunity to make a decision for himself about whether he wanted to change careers and race in Formula 1. No points in the license.”
The system favors drivers competing in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned a super license by winning the Indy Lights Championship.
Lundqvist’s needed points are made up of the 15 points he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for his third-place finish in Lights last year and his 2020 Formula America Regional Championship win, which earned him 18 points.
This gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than required for a licence.
Herta, meanwhile, finished the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by getting one point for any free training he does this year; McLaren retain his F1 rights and can put him in the car. Herta could also potentially compete in the FIA-sanctioned Winter Series to pick up some points.
Michael Andretti, who asked the FIA to expand his grid to add two cars for his team, said he never bothered to explore possible replacements for Hertha at the IndyCar team because he was sure the super license request would be rejected.
Andretti faced fierce opposition from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in hopes of adding an 11th team. Andretti could still go online by buying an existing team, and he would like to build his program around Hertha, which has Andretti under contract in IndyCar until 2023.
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