F1 bosses debate super license system and exemption for Herta

ByShannon J. Cortes

Sep 3, 2022

Colton Herta’s name continues to circle around the Formula 1 paddock and did so again on Saturday during a debate over the American’s ability to obtain the Super License required to compete in the World Series.

The 22-year-old California and IndyCar star has often been mentioned as a candidate for a seat next season with AlphaTauri. A sticking point continues to be Herta’s lack of a super license and speculation that F1’s governing body may be considering giving Herta an exemption.

This idea was rejected by the team principals during the Dutch Grand Prix.

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

Drivers must accumulate 40 points to obtain a Super License based on their three best performances over the previous four seasons. Herta are expected to be just 32 points ahead of 2023, and while they can earn points by attending F1 training sessions, they currently have no sessions scheduled this year, despite having a contract. testing with McLaren.

Either way, he is unlikely to reach the 40 point mark and there is some debate as to whether the International Automobile Federation (FIA) could apply force majeure to award Herta great license.

“From my perspective, it has nothing to do with force majeure,” Vasseur said. “Now if the FIA ​​wants to stop the points process and the Super License, that’s another story. They can do it, it’s up to them if they want to stop the system. And we can survive without it. 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 seats.

“We had discussions last year with Andretti. It’s not a secret. Herta was on the table and he was not eligible for a super license at this stage,” Vasseur said.

The problem is that the FIA ​​doesn’t govern IndyCar and therefore doesn’t rate it as highly as other World Series, making it harder for IndyCar drivers to get a Super License. The IndyCar grid currently features former F1 drivers Romain Grosjean, Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, whose 2015 season marked the last time an American was on the F1 grid.

Callum Ilott and Christian Lundgaard, both vying 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 design process for the current rules, but would be willing to listen to proposals to overhaul the licensing system.

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

Steiner, who also said the team remained undecided on whether to re-sign Mick Schumacher, noted that the absence of a Super License had pushed Herta off the Haas prospect list. The Haas team is owned by American businessman Gene Haas and 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 the Super Licence,” said Steiner, who added that Haas only considered drivers with F1 experience. “At the moment we are leaning more towards someone who has been in F1 before, so (Herta) didn’t make the list and he doesn’t have the Super License.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl worked with Herta in July during a two-day test in Portugal where Herta impressed with their preparation and on-track performance. It was this test that may have sparked interest in bringing him to F1, and Seidl said McLaren was open to adjusting the licensing system.

McLaren currently runs an IndyCar program which will expand to three teams next year.

“I think the IndyCar championship is a high quality, very competitive championship with the best drivers and so I think there’s no reason why we can’t make sure the competitive drivers there can’t. not move to Formula 1,” Seidl said. “Absolutely open to some flexibility there to give a guy like Colton the Super License because at the end of the day, what he’s shown so far in his racing career, I have no doubt that he is absolutely capable of competing in F1.”

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