Red Bull wants swift superlicence decision as it seeks AlphaTauri move for Herta

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner wants the FIA to make a swift decision on possible dispensations from its superlicence points system as it weighs its driver options for junior team AlphaTauri.

Horner said the team considers IndyCar race-winner Colton Herta an “exciting talent”, though he currently has insufficient superlicence points to race in F1. Herta has won seven races in the series but the FIA awards fewer superlicence points to IndyCar each year than it does to Formula 3.

The possibility of granting an exception to Herta to allow him to compete in F1 had a mixed reception from F1 team bosses earlier this week. Horner wants the FIA to resolve the matter soon so the team can select who to place at AlphaTauri next year.

“That’s an FIA issue,” he said today. “We just need clarity as to what is the situation regarding driver points, which hopefully will come sooner rather than later because that plays a key role obviously in the driver merry-go-round.”

Horner indicated Red Bull would like to place Herta at AlphaTauri next year. Herta tested for McLaren at the Autodromo do Algarve earlier this year in last year’s MCL36 chassis.

“I think he’s an exciting talent,” said Horner. “He’s a young American guy that’s been a stand-out talent in the US. So it will be very interesting to see how he performs in Formula 1.

“Formula 1 obviously has got growing popularity in the US market at the moment and to have a successful US driver could be very interesting.

“It could be interesting for us in the longer term, we’ve got contracts with our existing drivers and AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso prior they’ve produced a great stable of drivers for us to draw upon, whether it be Sebastian [Vettel], Max [Verstappen] or Daniel [Ricciardo] over the years.”

Yuki Tsunoda’s future at AlphaTauri is yet to be confirmed, but Pierre Gasly is contracted to the team for 2023. However Horner suggested Gasly could be released to another team – rumoured to be Alpine – if Herta arrives.

“I think Pierre is doing a good job within AlphaTauri, so I don’t think there would be a desire to change if there wasn’t an interesting option available,” he said.

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Keith Collantine
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77 comments on “Red Bull wants swift superlicence decision as it seeks AlphaTauri move for Herta”

  1. They should grant an exception and fix the low points awarded to IndyCar.

    The license is about safety and speed and so it’s ridiculous that F3 gets lower points.

    1. Higher points for F3 I meant!

      1. Higher points for F3 I meant!

        It doesn’t. Being an Indycar Champion qualifies you for a super license, doing the same in Formula 3 doesn’t.

    2. @Kris Lord Zero grounds for exception besides his 2018 IndyLights campaign competitor amount factor, but the SL-point distribution could be different, yes, or even scrapped altogether.

  2. That’s stupid. There’s a ton of drivers who already have a super license, according to objective criterias.

    Yes, the system probably penalizes drivers racing in the US, but the current system doesn’t prevent drivers from accruing enough SL points to make it to F1.

    1. *doesn’t prevent drivers in the US from accruing enough SL points to make it to F1, as evidenced by Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward having 40.

      1. @mxmxd Pato has 30 actually.

        1. @mxmxd But otherwise, I share your views on the general matter.

        2. I should’ve been more accurate : he (and Rossi) had 40 FOR 2022; he may, or not, have that amount for 2023, depending on how his 2022 season goes.

    2. The article has already countered this argument with this quote…

      Herta has won seven races in the series but the FIA awards fewer superlicence points to IndyCar each year than it does to Formula 3.

      Nobody can argue Herta’s IndyCar record is insufficient for a spot in F1. The point system needs to be fixed or abolished and Herta needs to be in F1. The system is broken, don’t penalize Herta for the FIA’s own shortcomings.

    3. the system probably penalizes drivers racing in the US

      No, it doesn’t.

      Indycar is the second-highest points-paying series on the planet, only behind Formula 2, which races on Formula 1 weekends, on Formula 1 tracks and with similar rubber from the same manufacturer.

      1. Exactly, and even so Newgarden, Dixon, Palou, and as @mxmxd mentioned O’Ward and Rossi all gathered enough points in Indycar. (Rossi would have had a license anyway since he briefly drove in F1.) Power might if he finished the current season well. That’s a pretty broad selection from the series that’s supposedly undervalued.

        1. I would prefer to see an Newgarden have a crack at F1 than Herta who has his moments, but often goes missing. Of course this deal is to do with Andretti and has nothing to do with bringing the best American driver into F1.

          1. Newgarden is also 31 and Herta 22. Alpha Tauri is supposed to be Red Bull’s feeder team to up and coming drivers so I’m sure age is part of it. But yeah, Josef is clearly the better American driver.

    4. @mxmxd Just saying that Colton Herta shouldn’t get a superlicence as there are plenty of others that do isn’t going to change my mind on this. You will have a hard time persuading me, many people on these forums or any F1 team bosses that Jack Aitken, Nikita Mazepin, Pietro Fittipaldi, Romain Grosjean, Nicolas Latifi are worthy of their superlicence but Colton Herta shouldn’t have one.

      He is clearly quick enough and is more than capable of handling a single seater at high speed safely (his save on the Indy road course this year is testament to that). The superlicence points rules were brought in to prevent a repeat of Max Verstappen getting an F1 drive at 17 years old in 2015. People are taking about and defending these rules as though they have existed for decades, are a fundamental facet of F1 and must be respected at all costs. There needs to be a rethink here.

      1. If supposedly worse drivers managed to collect enough super license points to become eligible, isn’t that an indictment on Colton Herta’s career choices, if not his qualities?

        PS: Sorry, reported your comment by accident.

        1. @proesterchen Maybe, but he gave the European single seater experience a go with good results with wins and podiums. It would have been a big risk to turn down the Indy Lights opportunity he had at his age, especially as it was a chance to emulate his dad’s chamipionship.

          You could argue that if he was desperate for F1 he should have stuck it out. However in my view he shouldn’t have to face any greater barriers to overcome for F1 participation based on career choices made when he was a teenager.

          1. Colton Herta is about to have 4 full years in Indycar under his belt. He didn’t earn enough super license points.

            And that’s the issue here, not that it’s impossible to become eligible for F1 going down the path he chose, but his lack of success at it.

      2. It’s funny you say that, because Nikita Mazepin getting in F1 was the direct result of the FIA bending the rules. Grosjean was grandfathered in these rules because he had been in F1 for a long and I don’t know why you listed him, despite acknolwedging the system wasn’t very old.

        I’d have no issue whatsoever with the FIA revising the license points system and giving more points for results in Indycar; there’s no reason why points given for Indy results aren’t the exact same as F2. In fact, I’d be totally for it. What I don’t like, and wouldn’t like, is the FIA changing the system because Christian Horner wants them to.

        1. @mxmxd The listed names merely represent names on a list that an F1 boss can choose from for a 2023 drive based on superlicence availability alone (Mazepin is admittedly hypothetical). The point I was making in a roundabout way is that if I was a team boss with a race seat to fill, I would not be impressed with this selection and I would find a way (preferably ethically but this is F1) to get a different driver I thought was better. The fact that AT are even asking the FIA to look at this should send alarm bells through the entire RBR young driver programme as they aren’t exactly short here (even after Vips was ditched).

          I think the system should be redesigned/removed as I don’t want unnecessary box-ticking bureaucracy preventing clearly suitable drivers getting to F1. The fact that Horner and Marko would be beneficaries of what I want pains me greatly but this is a necessary evil for the betterment of F1 as a whole.

          1. Fair enough, and I really appreciate your reply @chimaera2003 because your points really make sense, but there’s still a few issues here :

            – While this system was put up mostly to make sure the new F1 drivers have a decent baseline level (and was probably successful at this, minus Mazepin who was there because the rules were bent anyways), it had the consquence of streamlining the feeder ciruits into the Global Pathway. Indeed, what have made and what still makes FIAF3 and especially FIAF2 (FRECA and F4 are too much down the ladder) a very good choice, and why drivers/teams/sponsors are ready to pay a huge amount to race there, is the fact that it’s the quickest and best way to get to F1. Changing that now, in the middle of the season, would be a bit like giving the middle finder to the drivers who chose F2, and would go somewhat against the FIA’s own efforts towards streamlining.

            – If there’s such a change to be made (and I’m really not against giving more points for Indy), it probably shouldn’t be decided right in the middle of the season after a few teams made their driver choices for next season. Herta wasn’t a possibility for Aston Martin or McLaren.

          2. @chimaera2003 – Indeed i agree totally with you, the system was made to prefent a second Max Verstappen and Kids with lots of Money buying into F1 (Now they still do that but F3 and F2 gets money from it and the drivers gets atleast some experience to not too crash the car in F1 at corner 1 at they first race.)
            I always wonder why the indycars was so low rated.

        2. @mxmxd Mazepin achieved the minimum SL-point amount requirement on his own merits rather than with FIA bending, so false.

          1. The limit had been changed due to COVID and Mazepin was the lone beneficiary.

          2. @mxmxd But the alternative 30-point limit was inapplicable to F2 drivers as their racing program didn’t get affected considerably enough & he reached 40 anyway.
            Vips, who was supposed to race in SF that year, is the lone beneficiary at the time & he had 33.

          3. was at the time & is overall.

    5. People whined about Verstappen and Raikkonen being too inexperienced to be granted a Super License. They turned out alright and Herta has more racing experience than either of them when they debuted in F1. If someone has the talent, put them in the car.

  3. Herta is all of 8th in current IndyCar standings. Why exactly his he supposed to be a big deal?

    1. He’s with the fifth-best team. If Lewis Hamilton drove for Alfa Romeo, would you say he was only a 10th-12th-place driver?

    2. Some kind of mass hysteria at Racefans. It seems a lot of the English-language websites are desperate to run Indycar stories to get American clicks. But nobody in the US cares about Indycar outside of the month of May.

    3. Alonso is 9th in current Formula 1 standings. Why exactly is he supposed to be a big deal?

      Judging a driver soley by looking at points is silly.

      1. Remind me, how many Championships has Colton Herta won?

      2. Literally nothing else matters in F1 other than points. It’s a sport, not a beauty contest.

      3. Alonso doesn’t drive in a Spec (or Spec minus engine) series.

        1. Let’s be honest, if you’re not racing for Penske or Ganassi you don’t win championships in IndyCar. Seven wins at 22yrs old is pretty good for someone not in a top team.

    4. Answering my own question: he’s the highest-placed American open-wheel driver under the age of 30 Red Bull can access.

      Logan Sargeant is obviously a better bet, but a) Williams probably don’t want to give him up, and b) Herta might have greater name recognition in the US, given Sargeant went to Europe to race.

  4. We just need clarity as to what is the situation regarding driver points

    The only way you could lack clarity on the issue of Colton Herta’s eligibility for a super license is if you intentionally ignored the rules governing it.

    All you need to gain clarity is to read said rules.

    1. ‘We need clarity’ is just F1-speak for ‘we want to change the rules’.

      Anyway, that Horner is complaining about a choice of driver for Alpha Tauri further underlines the need to stop Red Bull owning two teams. It’s must be pretty obvious even to the FIA that they’re not two teams, but rather one big one with four cars.

  5. Based on what I heard post-race, RB’s plan would be him reaching the remaining SL points via FP1 running, although only Monza, COTA, AHR, & YMC FP1s are suitable for taking away track time from regular drivers, so he’d only get four (one per FP1) from these.
    Therefore, something else would also be necessary so that he’d reach a sufficient amount in time for the next season-opener, also considering he’ll lose some at this year’s end.

    1. @jerejj I heard the plan was to get full points awarded for his 2018 season, boost with FP1 sessions this year (if needed to get the full 40) and then place him at Abu Dhabi in a race seat. Taking part in the race in Abu Dhabi will remove all points issues as you then need to not race for 3 years to lose it.

      1. the plan was to get full points awarded for his 2018 season

        The rules are clear as to the minimum requirements a series has to meet for its drivers to be awarded super license points.

        Indy Lights in 2018 did not meet those requirements.

        PS: Sorry, reported your comment by accident.

      2. @chimaera2003 – Interesting.
        @proesterchen – Yes, the 2018 IndyLights competitor amount was insufficient.
        However, since this factor was outside his control, belatedly giving the points he should’ve gotten from finishing 2nd already at the time wouldn’t be wrong, even if unusual & set a precedent.
        As long as the other affected drivers from that campaign, i.e., those that finished high enough to receive SL points under normal circumstances would also get those points about four years late.

  6. Clever. If McLaren is going to pass on Herta, Red bull should take the advantage. Gasly and Tsunoda are both useless so Herta is not going to be any worse.

    1. To further bring home how rather dumb the point system is. Herta’s seven IndyCar victories are not worthy of an F1 drive, but Yuri’s single F3 and three F2 wins (1 sprint, 2 feature) were enough. It is a flawed system through and through.

      1. Super license points are awarded based on the season results, not some arbitrary number of wins.

        It’s not the system, it’s Colton Herta’s lack of results.

      2. @sjaakfoo as others have pointed out, why is an arbitrary number of wins, rather than his season long performance, the only point that you keep bringing up?

        Is it really just because of his performance, or is it because he also happens to be American, and the desire to get an American driver to capitalise on Liberty Media’s push on F1 in the USA is resulting in a push for preferential treatment for Herta? In some of the comments Zak Brown has made in the past, he’s implied that his nationality is an important factor – suggesting that a non-American driver who had the same results in IndyCar would be very unlikely to be receiving a comparable amount of attention and calls for special dispensation.

    2. I remember Seb Bourdais 4 time champ car champion get his shot in F1 and he couldn’t hack it. It’s extremely hard to jump from any series to F1. But at least the F3 and F2 drivers are often driving the same tracks as F1 and get young driver testing and sim work. Coming from US series to F1 is way harder unfortunately.

  7. Lewisham Milton
    4th September 2022, 20:29

    I’d like a swift decision on six-wheeled cars.
    Rules are rules. Shut up Horner.

  8. I thought Horner wasn’t a fan of changing the rules mid season?!

    Joking aside, I would like to see Herta in F1 is possible.

    1. @oweng – to be fair giving points for a super license is done after the season :)

  9. More to the point. Why were we trying to block another ‘Max’ getting into F1?

    He has turned out alright. In fact – the current world champion.

    I think he could beat Paul Belmondo or Nikita Mazepin in equal machinery.

    1. Max couldn’t get in F1 today even if the SL requirements wouldn’t be a thing (as he didn’t have a valid driver’s license).

    2. Why were we trying to block another ‘Max’ getting into F1?

      The Max Verstappen of today is not the Max Verstappen that drew frequent criticism in 2015 and 2016. You can argue for or against wanting to prevent that particular case, but the FIA came down on the side that said more experience would have meant a smoother switch to F1.

      Also, the FIA wants to use the system to privilege drivers who know the tracks, know the procedures, know the rules and know the way the F1 game is played. Indycar is a fine series, but seen in that context it has little relation to F1. Despite that, Indycar is the only series aside from F2 to award instant superlicenses to the winner of a championship, and also gives solid points for 2nd place and then follows the Formula E points all the way down to 10th in the championship. As such, numerous Indycar drivers have gathered enough superlicense points to be eligible for an F1 seat. Herta, however, is not one of those drivers.

      The system isn’t perfect, of course. It has some weird quirks like tweaking the points awarded to certain championship positions from series to series by all of 1 point added or subtracted. It’s a bit over-engineered in that sense.

      1. Good point. Its easy to forget how crash prone and risk averse max was up until say 2019.

        1. @SHR Modding:
          You must be joking. When you make statements like that, back them up with facts. And when you’re done digging, compare his mistakes with the field average. Only then you can claim someone is crash prone.

  10. It feels like the compromise that would benefit IndyCar drivers, yet “preserve” the “prestige” of F2 is an easy one:

    F2 SL pts: (Top 6): 40-40-40-30-20-10
    Current Indy Top 6: 40-30-20-10-8-6
    My proposed Indy SL: 40-40-30-20-10-8

    That one change would open many more IndyCar drivers (including Herta) over time. Two Top 5 finishes in IndyCar should make you worthy of at least a look by F1. I think its an easy win-win.

  11. Mark in Florida
    5th September 2022, 1:52

    Well none of this surprises me at all. If you race in the USA you’re some kind of international pariah apparently. If Andretti Racing cant get a spot then Colton doesnt have a prayer. There are plenty of people in the US that can pedal a race car quick enough to be in F1. It took Ericsson a while to drive an Indy Car, but the team was patient knowing he had the talent. Look at Scott Mclaughlin he came in from the Super Cars Series. He has proven to be adaptable and fast. So just because someone didn’t do the European route why should new and interesting talent be blocked out by this arbitrary and useless point system that was brought about to stop another Max.

    1. If you race in the USA you’re some kind of international pariah apparently.

      Indycar is the second-highest points-paying racing series on the planet.

      If Andretti Racing cant get a spot

      Michael Andretti could have bought a spot, he just didn’t like the terms.

      So just because someone didn’t do the European route

      This isn’t about where you chose to race. This is about not getting the results required to qualify for a super license.

  12. Even if I was an Indycar manager I would not pick Herta, he’s very inconsistent and crash prone. He’s in his 4th year and it didn’t evolved at all. Palou or Oward are more complete and better drivers.

    1. I actually watch any open wheel I can, from F3, F2, Indy, F1, and even KF1.

      Herta is in the spooky-fast camp, and is one of the most solid composure drivers I’ve seen.

      But your comment touches on the real problem. He lives on the line maybe too much of the time, and hence his crash count is a little high. Frankly, same mold as LeClerc. And, really, Valentino Rossi’s mold when he was young.

      Still, he completely fits in F1. Same as LeClerc.

      O’Ward is also fast, but has a narrower style. He’d be a good teammate to a need-pointy-car driver, like Max, but might struggle on a significantly rear wear limited car (which to O’Ward’s detriment, pointy often correlates to rear limited). I could see O’Ward being a Trulli-like, a qual specialist.

      Palou is Dixon-like, and probably should not have left Ganassi. TBH, my read on him is less clear. He could probably do well in F1 too, but I’d pick Herta over Palou myself, for the flashes of spooky-fast we’ve seen.

      Note, Norris and Herta were on the same F3 team, and did comparably.

      1. Sergio Sette Camara was in the same team in F2 and did comparably, but no one cares.

  13. Why the hype/rush?

    There is lots of talent to choose from in F2. It would be unfair to them if the rules get bend for marketing reasons. If Indycar is deemed to be a great alternative to F2 to help drivers hone their race-craft that is relevant to F1, then the rules should be reconsidered for next year.

  14. Even if the rules are subjectively ‘wrong’, it is the rules that need fixing. I really do not believe in exceptions like this as it just makes a mockery of there being rules in the first place.

  15. Why Herta though? Lawson must be off their list then, and Hauger is not ready yet. But why not sign Drugovich?

  16. I would welcome this. The F1 vs Indycar debate has raged forever and we’ve seen lots of ex-F1 drivers go to Indycar and be very succesful…but in modern times, with the exception of Jacques Villeneuve, I don’t think we’ve seen drivers do the same the other way around. Happy to be proved wrong, but I can’t think of another example.

    1. Montoya was certainly successful. Sorry for reporting your comment.

      1. Yup…good example! And no problem.

  17. This push to have Herta granted a Superlicence wouldn’t have anything to do with him being American, and young and marketable in a sport with a growing US audience and grand prix calendar, would it? Using Gasly as a bargaining chip, too. ‘Exciting young talent’ Horner says. Yep, one that’s languishing in mid-table in Indycar. There are better drivers out there – they just won’t make F1 or the Red Bull company as much money.

    1. He’s beating Romain Grosjean in the same team. Why is Herta any less qualified than Latifi, Guanyu or Tsunoda? Maybe he’s not Scott Dixon or Josef Newgarden, but he’s also only 22 and it’s not like Andretti has been a title winning outfit lately.

  18. When Max debuted at 17 people went around saying “well, if he’s talented enough he can be in F1”. We all know what happened next. Same with Kimi Raikkonen before that. Colin Herta had a lot more experience than either of those two did . If Zak Brown, Christian Horner and Mario Andretti think he’s ready then I think they’re probably right.

  19. Herta is overated. Put him in F2 and everyone will see that. If anyone deserves a seat by merit is the F2 champion, each year hundreds of boys (and girls) races in feeder series to get to that point, only the best gets there, it’s ridiculous that most people are busy trying to find arguments to say Drugovich is not that good. “But he is in his 3rd year” Let me explain a thing, you need to be much above average to win in F2 in a midfield team with that margin. “The field is weak” How? It’s almost the same guys Piastri beat before! Pourchaire/Vesti/Sargeant/Lawson etc challenged Piastri for the title in F3.

    It’s complete ridiculous that he’s overlooked for a driver that is rumoured to be fast but NEVER won anything in his whole career, not even Indy Lights.

    Anyone that follows motorsporst now that results are what matters in the end.

  20. I don’t understand the controversy. Do you want a superlicense? Then you have to earn the points to get it. The points of the super license have been like this for years, Herta (or his managers) know very well what the path is if they want to race in F1. I’m a little tired of every driver having to be a marketing device. One thing is that there is some pay drivers, another that they all are, but now they already want to buy even the superlicenses, while drivers who win championships are left without a seat.

    1. It’s hasn’t been “like this for years”, it’s only been like this since Verstappen came in relatively recently. He turned out just fine. Why should he get a Super License at 17 and then we arbitrarily make the rules harder for everyone else? Herta had more racing experience than Verstappen or Raikkonen when they made their debuts.

      1. Verstappen entered F1 8 years ago… so yes, for years. Time flies ;)

        I understand what you’re saying, but then let’s get rid of the whole superlicense system. The same that can be said of Herta (more experience than Verstappen or Raikkonen at the beginning), can be said of many other drivers. If they gives him an exception, they will have to explain to the others why the exception doesn’t work for them.

  21. The Super Licence points system works for the junior ranks. It doesn’t work for drivers moving from another senior series. Indycar isn’t F1 but it’s not a training ground either.

    He’s won seven races, he can handle the car, he can race in close quarters and Red Bull think he’s worth a punt. Would have no problem with him getting a licence.

  22. Nobody seems to be recognising that FIA have biased the superlicense points system to favour FIA-sanctioned series, and suppress all other series. Presumably that’s a commercial decision, so lets hope they can see the commercial benefit of letting Herta race.

    Whilst it awards strong points to the indycar champion, the points rapidly fall off, with 4th in Indycar awarding 10 points as compared with 3rd in F2 awarding 40, and an F4 title win 12 points. The implication of this is that F2 is a far more tight and competitive field than Indycar, but with 5 drivers capable of winning the title coming into the final round, that is clearly not the case. Indycar also doesn’t remove the champion each year like F2, which adds to its competitiveness in comparison.

  23. A race winning driver in Indycar driver has to skill to compete in F1. Grosjean has yet to win in Indycar and he has a Superlicense. The skill level in Indycar is very high. Remember Jacque Villenueve and Juan Pablo Montoya came up through Indycar.

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