On Friday, the International Automobile Federation said Colton Hertha would not be granted a super license, depriving the American driver and IndyCar star of the license he needs to drive in Formula One. In a statement released by the Associated PressThe FIA confirmed that Hertha would not receive a super license, citing a request made “through the appropriate channels”.
The FIA’s decision came despite interest in Herta from Red Bull Racing, who were considering hiring a driver from Santa Clarita, California to race their AlphaTauri junior team. Hertha was supposed to replace Pierre Gasly. who Red Bull was willing to let go to Alpine replace Fernando Alonso in case they could hire Hertha to replace him.
At the center of the issue is the FIA’s licensing system, especially how it rates IndyCar races compared to FIA-sanctioned series. While IndyCar is the leading open-wheel racing series in North America and is a great crossover with Formula 1 – for example, 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner Markus Eriksson raced in F1 from 2014 to 2018 – the series is not regulated by the FIA and so Thus, the same number of points are awarded for a super license as for the Junior Feeder Series for F1, such as F2 and F3.
Hertha finished the 2022 IndyCar season with 32 points, eight points short of the 40 needed to qualify for a super license. In theory, Herta could still earn a super license by scoring one point in free practice (McLaren has a test contract with McLaren) or by scoring points in an FIA-sanctioned winter series. The situation could also be resolved by the FIA, which granted Herta an exception, but he officially stated that that he would rather not get one.
The purpose of the super license system is to reward driver talent as a motivating factor for drivers hired by F1 teams. However, critics of the system, especially in IndyCar, point out that F1 feeder series often feature many “paying drivers” who are hired because they bring financial support to the teams they drive for, rather than pure driving talent.
IndyCar star Alexander Rossi – Hertha’s Andretti Autosport teammate and the last American driver to race in F1 – answered a question last Saturday. with a long post on his Twitter account in which he stated that he was “fed up” with reasoning about the Super License system.
“Motorsport is still the most popular sport in the world where money can outweigh talent,” Rossi wrote. “What is frustrating and, in my opinion, a fundamental problem is that the sporting element has so often given way to business that a method had to be put in place for certain teams to stop taking riders solely on the basis of their financial support.
“Ultimately, these past decisions, whether out of greed or necessity, cost Colton the opportunity to make a decision about whether he wanted to change careers and race in Formula One. No license points.”
Since his entry into the IndyCar arena, Hertha has been considered perhaps the most qualified candidate to be the first American to race in Formula One since Rossi raced for Marussia between 2014 and 2015. Herta became the youngest driver ever to win an IndyCar race in 2019. , and has since racked up seven career wins, finishing third in points in 2020.