Alpha Tauri were keen to find a replacement for Pierre Gasly in 2023 as the Frenchman was, himself, keen to move to Alpine. A move such as that would mean that Alpha tour would be letting Pierre go a year early from his contract and in order to do so, they wanted a driver to replace him for 2023.
The driver the team were interested in is American Colton Herta. Unfortunately, Colton only has 32 of the needed 40 points on his FIA license program which means he is not eligible for a super license which is required to drive a Formula 1 car in the championship.
This has created a lot of frustration and there are a host of reasons this FIA license systems exists. One of the main reasons is the teams themselves who were bringing younger and younger drivers into the series with less and less experience but as they had serious financial backing, they found a seat in F1. There are other reasons as well like determining experience levels based on the types of series the driver races in etc.
This hasn’t made Alpha Tauri’s parent company, Red Bull and it’s motorsport director, Helmet Marko, very happy.
“It’s a shame that people don’t realize what value an American driver, especially a guy like Colton Herta, would have for the booming American market, especially with three F1 races,” Marko said.
What’s difficult about this is that Colton is a race-winning Indycar driver. In fact, he’s won seven races and yet he is deemed not experienced enough. I think that’s the implication the stark points system suggests but it’s not what is is actually saying. He just hasn’t had enough experience in other sieges which pay more points than Indycar or enough experience in Indycar alone to equal 40 points.
It’s unimaginable that Herta isn’t experienced enough for a Super License but the license system was created for a reason with many of those reasons legitimate. One might argue that the FIA should make an exception here but if they make exceptions, then what good is the rule?
This leave a gap in the Gasly to Alpine move and some suggest that Nyck de Vries has been talking to Alpha Tauri on the heels of his terrific Williams debut at the Italian GP last weekend. That might be a quick solution with a very tidy driver in Pierre’s absence.
This goes back to the thought from the rest of the world that implies that “Americans aren’t good enough”.. I would say “well, then, if that’s what you think, then let’s pit your Formula 1 drivers against our IndyCar drivers, in both conditions, and let’s see who comes out on top.”
You know there is also the theory that the Herta/Alpha Tauri thing was never going to happen and it was just a giant smoke screen created by Marko to distract from the RBR/Porsche deal collapsing.
He would meet the minimum requirement for a practice driver license. I’m not sure if he could drive the 800 km required for the rest of the season to get 8 superlicense points though? They tend to drive about 150 km in one practice session. Could you get him in at 4 races this year?