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AlphaTauri closing in on Herta?

NEWS STORY
06/09/2022

Despite not qualifying for a superlicence, AlphaTauri is understood to be close to signing Colton Herta, with Christian Horner eyeing the American as a future candidate for Red Bull.

Herta, who tested with McLaren during the summer, having signed on as a development driver for the Woking team in March, is currently racing in IndyCar with Andretti Autosport.

Having seriously impressed during his F1 test at Portimao, there has been speculation ever since over the possibility of him entering F1.

Other than not currently qualifying for a superlicence - of which more later - there is confusion as McLaren has an interest in a number of other IndyCar drivers.

For F1, Herta would be a major boost as the sport seeks to build on the success of Drive to Survive and further establish itself in the US.

"He an exciting talent," said Christian Horner over the Zandvoort weekend. "He's a younger American guy that's been a standout talent in the US, so it'll be very interesting to see how he performs in F1.

"And F1 obviously is growing in popularity in the US market at the moment," he continued, "and to have a successful US driver could be very interesting. It could be interesting for us, in the longer term. I mean, we've got contracts with our existing drivers, but AlphaTauri or Toro Rosso, they've produced a great stable of drivers for us to draw upon, whether it be Sebastian or Max or Daniel over the years."

However, there is the question of the superlicence, and while F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali has said he will discuss the matter with the FIA, its president, Mohammed ben Sulayem has gone on record saying that he does not wish to compromise the integrity of the superlicence system.

"That's an FIA issue," agrees Horner, "we just need clarity for 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.

"Obviously in terms of clarification on points for a driver looking to come into F1, you've got to know that you've got options, and if that option isn't there, then the other triggers are not going to come into play."

Short of the 40 points required in order to qualify for the licence, AlphaTauri is calling on the FIA to make an exception related to the 2020 IndyCar season - in which Herta finished third - which had a reduced number of races due to COVID.

"We looked at the regulations," Helmut Marko told SpeedCity Broadcasting on SiriusXM, "we discussed it with the FIA, and because of COVID there's a special regulation that you can take three years (from four) and also if one result isn't maximum points and outside the driver's hands they can give the points.

"So it's nothing unreasonable," he added. "He won seven IndyCar races and that's comparable to a Grand Prix I think, so it would be a shame if he wouldn't get a super-licence."

Asked the alternative to Herta, should the FIA refuse to relent, Horner said: "I think Pierre is doing a good job within AlphaTauri, so I don't think there will be a desire to change if there wasn't an interesting option available."

Asked if Herta will race in F1 if he is granted approval, Marko was in no doubt: "Astonishingly enough, all of the parties and teams involved, we found an agreement."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Zandvoort here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 07/09/2022 13:44

"@ Mad Matt...it's called 'offer and acceptance'. Perfectly routine in many fields."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Mad Matt, 07/09/2022 10:15

"@ancient70! Good point about costs, I think Ginetta Juniors start at around 20K a year and I haven't got that kind of money for my kids let alone what comes next... and then, even if you can get past this hurdle and get picked up by, Alpine, for example, is it fair that you should be locked in a long contract with them? Is that even legal?

Should F1 go down the football route with transfer fees and transfer windows etc?"

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3. Posted by kenji, 06/09/2022 11:54

"@ Mad Matt...well stated. I fully concur. "

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4. Posted by ancient70!, 06/09/2022 10:58

"Mad Matt, the reference to “we have done things” was not time specific, but rather a reference to an attitude of”this is how its done and it can never be changed” I am aware the license rules are recent, but just maybe they missed something?? I agree currently there are many youngsters battling through the lower orders at great costs, but at the same time how many potential world champions have been lost not due to a lack of talent, but due a lack of money?"

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5. Posted by Mad Matt, 06/09/2022 7:24

"To be fair this isn't a case of "we've always done it this way" as the current rules were only introduced fairly recently.

While it's clear that some drivers have managed in F1 with experience which wouldn't qualify them today we also had a number of muppets get through and I think the desire was to cement F1 as the 'pinnacle of motor sport (TM)' so it has to be hard to get into, agree with that or not :-)

My opinion, if anyone cares, is that it would be very unfair on a generation of drivers who've followed (or are following) the approved path, at great cost to them and their backers, to turn round and say actually you don't need to bother with that...."

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6. Posted by ancient70!, 06/09/2022 7:11

"This whole thing totally floors me, it reminds me of the “we have always done things this way and we can not change it” syndrome. I totally agree the the rules should not be ignored/changed frivolously. The question is firstly wat was the intent of rules? It was to act as filter to prevent “incompetent” drivers getting in to F1. As such it may be the filter is too fine? Yes there is now a clear path for getting a super license, follow it and you may be successful in obtaining the license. But that does not mean you get to F1. I feel there should should be an alternate metric to allow F1 entry. As has been pointed out here, with current system Kimi would not have made it, and I think there are more, Montoya? Villeneuve? etc. Stick the person in a car, do 100 laps and see what happens, it worked for Schumacher, although he might have had enough points for a license. In the end that is not what got him into F1."

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7. Posted by ARL, 05/09/2022 21:47

"Kimi only had a total of 23 races in nothing higher than Formula Renault when he started in a Sauber in his first F1 race. He finished sixth in that race.

Makes Max's progress into F1 almost look pedestrian in comparison.

I think Peter Sauber had to make some sort of promise on Kimi's performance before the FIA let him race. Who needs Super Licences?"

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8. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 05/09/2022 18:33

""He won seven IndyCar races and that's comparable to a Grand Prix I think."

Sign Scott Dixon immediately, straight to Red Bull.

Regarding Herta's license status, perhaps Red Bull can place him into F1 practise sessions and F2 for the remainder of that season then whistle him off to NZ for the TRS.

I don't know the Super License system at all but it seems strange that a driver that finishes a season 3rd in Indy isn't good enough for F1.
Then again, the system has to have some integrity otherwise all the F4, F3, F2 drivers that are in that path gathering points at great expense of racing would be wondering if they should have just gone Indy Lights, Indy instead.
Last time I can remember the Super License and driver situation being a big story was Raikonnen going from I think F3000 to F1 with Sauber."

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9. Posted by KKK, 05/09/2022 16:31

"Enter your comment hereWHat is the point of having a super-license when its completely ignored. Another flop ? Probably."

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10. Posted by Chester, 05/09/2022 13:42

"Great news. I saw Colton win the inaugural IndyCar race at COTA in Austin. Hope these rule followers let him participate. "

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