IndyCar Star Colton Herta Did Not Qualify for F1 Super License, Here's Why

Colton Herta 7 photos
Photo: Colton Herta Racing on Facebook
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Next year's Formula 1 season could have had a new rookie in the pit lane, who would have been the youngest driver ever to win an IndyCar race. We are writing about Colton Herta, who hoped he'd be granted an FIA SuperLicense that could allow him to compete in the sport, as the folks at AlphaTauri were warming up a seat for him.
On Friday, September 23rd, the FIA announced it stands firm on the matter of the SuperLicense for Colton Herta. The American driver, who is 22 years old, did not have enough points to be eligible for the license, as the sport he is racing in, IndyCar, is not governed by the FIA, which means that his results there are not as important as someone's in Formula2, one of the junior feeder series into F1.

Ideally, a racer gets results in karting, enters Formula 3, gets great results there, graduates to Formula 2, proves to be exceptional as well, and then becomes a rookie in Formula 1. In the real world, though, it depends on many other factors, especially on sponsor deals and money.

Ever since the discussion regarding Colton Herta and the SuperLicense matter, people have been looking at alternatives for him to get more points in FIA-sanctioned events.

It could have happened if the American driver had entered and scored results in various sports that take place over winter, as well as by entering a practice session in an F1 car. Scoring eight points to get the bare minimum would have been costly and complicated but not entirely impossible.

Colton Herta
Photo: Colton Herta Racing on Facebook
Speaking on the matter before the FIA's decision, Colton Herta had said that he did not want an exception to be made for him, which was also on the table as a possibility. The described stance is what we like to call sportsmanship, and few would have liked to race with an exception to a rule that has kept others away.

Without that exception, which is not happening, Herta would have to get McLaren, who holds his F1 rights, to place him in a car (again) in a free practice session before a race, which would get him a point, and then compete in one or several winter series that is sanctioned by the FIA and get the remaining points from his current 32 to 40, which would be the minimum for an FIA SuperLicense. Colton has previously driven an F1 car thanks to McLaren, but

Even if Colton Herta is not moving on to an F1 seat next season, it does not mean that his being denied a license this time 'round does not impact the sport. AlphaTauri, the junior team operated by Red Bull, wanted him in the game as Yuki Tsunoda's teammate, as a replacement for Pierre Gasly. The latter was supposed to go to Alpine if the Red Bull junior team would allow it, according to Christian Horner.

At the same time, Colton Herta has an IndyCar contract for the 2023 season with Mario Andretti's team. If you remember, the latter wanted to become the 11th team on the grid, which is something that did not fare well with existing teams, as well as with the sport's leaders.

Colton Herta
Photo: Colton Herta Racing on Facebook
Andretti still has a shot of getting in Formula One, with Colton Herta by their side, if an existing team is acquired. However, doing so will not guarantee a spot for Colton.

It is important to note that the Andretti Autosport team was allegedly so confident that the FIA would deny Colton's license request for 2023 that they did not bother to search for a replacement for Herta in IndyCar for the 2023 season.

His current teammate, Alexander Rossi, who was the last American on the grid back in 2015, had stated that “Colton has the talent and capability to race in F1.” In his social media posts, he criticized the fact that the business side of the sport has put the sporting element on a backseat, which is the sport's fundamental problem, in his opinion.

Ironically, the F1 SuperLicense system was put in place to prevent teams from entering only drivers who pay for their seats, but many of them still have paying drivers on the grid to fund their racing activities.

Alexander Rossi is not the only driver to criticize the FIA's SuperLicense system, which may not be the best at ensuring that only the most talented drivers get a spot in Formula 1. You can read his statement on the matter in the tweet below. Now, after reading this, do you think we would have seen Colton Herta in F1 next year if his dad had been a billionaire who could have acquired an F1 team? If the answer is yes, the system needs to be changed a bit.

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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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