From a simple rumor, the probable arrival in F1 at AlphaTauri of the American Colton Herta who is playing in the IndyCar Series at Andretti Autosport, materializes day by day with the confessions of Helmut Marko.
The Red Bull Racing adviser nevertheless details the conditions for him to start in Faenza training in 2023.
Colton Herta in F1, yes, but…
A little music is heard in the F1 paddock: Pierre Gasly would be coveted by Alpine F1 Team to form a 100% French duo from 2023 alongside Esteban Ocon, provided that Red Bull releases him from his contract, if these the latter manage to recruit the rising star across the Atlantic: Colton Herta.
« We can imagine a lot of things but discussions are ongoing, » Marko told CANAL+. « If all the conditions are met, he could leave, » admits the Austrian, speaking of Pierre Gasly. « I can’t talk about the conditions, but it seems possible. »
Helmut Marko half-confirms two things: the first being that Red Bull Racing could let go of Pierre Gasly who had nevertheless been confirmed in his position for 2023, and the second that they are eyeing the USA side to recruit a new driver. .
But there is a problem, Colton Herta does not have enough points to validate his FIA Super License and there is very little chance that he will succeed on the track by the end of the season (not to say no chance).
Currently credited with 32 points out of the 40 required, he can obtain 1 additional point per Free Practice session in Grand Prix (with a total of 100 km covered and without penalty received). Hoping that he gets 1 point for his 2022 season in the IndyCar Series (he is currently 8th in the standings), he will not be able to play 7 Free Practice sessions by the end of the 2022 season in F1.
A derogation from the FIA?
The only solution for Colton Herta to win his Super License is for the FIA to accept a waiver taking into account his track record from the Indy Lights to the IndyCar Series and agree to give the missing points.
« I think we can prove that Herta has the right to get a license, » Marko said. « The deal is not done yet, we need to get a definitive answer from the FIA first and I think it should be for Monza… » says a rather confident Helmut Marko.
“Amazingly, from all parties and teams involved, we have reached an agreement in principle,” Marko told US broadcaster SpeedCity Broadcasting on SiriusXM after the Dutch Grand Prix.
Helmut Marko is confident, but in the camp of the teams opposite, the discontent will quickly be heard. If we accept a waiver for a driver who « deserves to be in F1 », what do we do with all the other drivers who climb the pyramid of promotion formulas and who could claim the same status? Are we not going to jeopardize the points scale of the FIA Super License?
“We looked at the regulations, we discussed it with the FIA, and because of the Covid, there is a special regulation which allows taking three years (instead of four) and in the event that the driver has not enough points, they can allocate the missing units », justifies Marko. « So there’s nothing unreasonable. He’s won seven IndyCar races and that’s comparable to a Grand Prix I think, so it would be a shame if he didn’t get a Super Licence. »
Right now, however, a deal looks complicated as too many rival teams won’t agree to override the strict Super License rules. « Nope »Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky Deutschland. « We have rules and the rules are there for good reasons. I understand it’s frustrating for the Americans, but maybe they need to improve the IndyCar Series. And that should still be done. respecting the rules »he insisted.
Even F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is not easily opening the door to Colton Herta for 2023. “Sport must respect the rules”did he declare. « Of course the American pilots are important to us, but in this situation the current protocol must be followed. »
Gasly released only if Herta obtains Super License
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has said they will only release Gasly for Alpine provided they can secure Herta. « It’s an issue from the FIA, we just need clarity which we hope will come soon enough as he is key for transfers »said Horner.
« If the Super License is refused, other movements between stables are not possible. » On Herta’s potential, Horner said: « He is an exciting talent, a young American who has distinguished himself in the United States. It will be very interesting to see how he performs in F1. To have a successful American driver could be very interesting. But Pierre is doing good job at Alpha Tauri, there would be no desire for change if there was not an attractive option available. »