Formula One team Alpine lost two drivers in two days during the 2022 summer break and are looking to recruit Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman is under contract for another year however Christian Horner revealed in Zandvoort the team would release him to Alpine if the FIA granted American driver Colton Herta his super license. Alpine are now set to grant the American a test drive before Singapore.
The IndyCar series where Herta currently races is North America’s premier single seater racing competition but because the FIA does not regulate that sport, it deems it only worthy of the level of points awarded for Formula E events.
Granted, the points for a win in IndyCar are the same as in Formula One, but they then the taper quickly from positions P2 and downwards to the same value as those awarded for positions in the FIA’s electric racing car series.
The farcical nature of this is evident when comparing a maximum 50 minute street race in electric cars, whose top speed of around 200mph is hardly ever reached, with IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500.
The Indy500 race is considered one of the ‘triple crown’ events in motorsport with only Graham Hill having won all three. The other two are The Le Mans 24 hour race and the F1 Monaco GP.
The only driver in modern times to come close to claiming all three is outgoing Alpine driver Fernando Alonso, who needs just the Indy500 to complete the treble.
The Indy500 is a three hour race, with on average 6 pitstops covered where the average speed for the duration is close to 200mph.
Colton Herta has won 7 IndyCar events in his 4 seasons of competition ut does not qualify for an F1 super license. His test with Alpine will up his points tally but he will still fall short of the number required to drive in Formula One in 2023.
Alpine are desperate for Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly and so are facilitating this for Herta in an attempt to get him closer to the mark and hope the FIA will then adjudicate under ‘special circumstances’ that Herta’s super license will be granted.
Alpha Tauri boss where Gasly races at present is clear on the issue.
“It is a decision from Red Bull which driver they will bring into the team,” said Tost.
“But I think if it’s not Colton Herta, then Pierre Gasly will stay and nothing will change.”
“It’s a decision from the FIA whether he gets the superlicence or not, and I hope that FIA will take this decision as soon as possible so that we know how to build up the team and where to go for next year,” added Tost.
However, not everyone agrees Herta should be allowed into the sport. Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto believes increasing the valuation of IndyCar drivers will devalue the Ferrari driver academy programme.
“We are investing a lot in our Ferrari Driver Academy and continue to do so,” said the Ferrari boss. “I think force majeure cannot be used for Herta. That will be a completely wrong approach.
“Regulations are in place in order to protect our sports and make sure that we’re making the right process and choices for our sport itself. So Herta may participate in the championship, [when] he’s got what are the requirements to do so and not differently.
“I think that’s very important and we will certainly over-view what the FIA will do in that respect. And I think each single team will do so because it’s for the importance of our sport. We cannot have force majeure or whatever are the situations, which is not a force majeure, certainly in that case.”
The 2023 IndyCar season concluded on the same weekend as the F1 Italian GP, with Will Power eclipsing Mario Andretti’s record for pole positions and claiming his second drivers’ championship.
By his own standards and previous seasons Herta had a poor year. He finished 10th in the drivers’ championship winning only on the road course in Indianapolis. His other only podium was a P2 in Toronto.
Whether Herta is awarded his super license for 2023 appears unlikely, however the FIA need to look again at how IndyCar points are allocated and remove the current farce that values their racing series down with Formula E.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 13, 2022