Colton Herta, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

F1 team bosses criticised for opposing superlicence rules break for Herta

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Formula 1 team bosses’ reluctance to back a move which would ease Colton Herta’s entry into the series has been met with criticism by American drivers racing in IndyCar.

Herta, who became IndyCar’s youngest-ever race winner in 2019 at the age of 18, was linked with a move into F1 last year when his Andretti team attempted to buy Sauber, which runs Alfa Romeo. That deal failed to materialise, but Herta has again been connected to an F1 switch with Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri.

But despite winning seven IndyCar races over the past four seasons, Herta has not amassed the necessary 40 FIA superlicence points in order to qualify to compete in F1. The FIA awards a total of 124 points to the top 10 finishers in IndyCar which is far fewer than junior categories Formula 2 (201) and even Formula 3 (128).

In recent years the FIA adjusted the superlicence points rules in reaction to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However suggestions the FIA could adopt a similar approach in light of Herta’s situation and allow him a superlicence as a matter of “force majeure” were given short shrift by some team bosses today.

“From my point of view it has nothing to do with force majeure because you have championships everywhere in the world that you were able to score points,” said Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur.

“If the FIA want to stop the process of the points and the superlicence it’s another story. But they can do it and it’s up to them to decide if they want to stop the system and we can survive without the system, but nothing to do for me with force majeure.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner echoed Vasseur’s view. “We have got rules and regulations which we need to respect,” he said. “If we don’t respect our own rules, and try to find ways around it, I don’t think that’s correct. I mean, we could then apply that to other things as well.”

“I’m one of those who says if you’ve got rules, if we don’t respect them and just try to find ways around that why we have rules, then we need to change the rules and that is a different discussion,” he said. “If you want to change the rule, let’s speak about it but, again, there’s a governance in place.”

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Their comments prompted dismay from American drivers racing in IndyCar. Conor Daly, who raced in F1 support series between 2011 and 2014 and is the son of former F1 driver Derek Daly, took issue with Steiner’s reaction.

“Oh, what a surprise,” he posted on social media. “The team principal for the ‘American’ F1 team [is] not a supporter of an American driver once again.”

Alexander Rossi, who moved to IndyCar after starting five F1 races in 2015, added: “I’m so sick of this.”

But McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, who ran Herta in a test session at Autodromo do Algarve earlier this year, believes he should be given the chance to compete in F1.

“In terms of the superlicence I think in general we believe in the system, we think it’s a good system in place. But at the same time, we are absolutely up for some flexibility as well, also taking into account especially the situation in the last two years with COVID and everything, it had an impact as well on results drivers could score.

“[We’re] absolutely open for some flexibility there and handing a guy like Colton the superlicence, because in the end, with what he has shown so far in his racing career, I have no doubt that he is absolutely able to compete in Formula 1.”

The possibility of increasing the number of superlicence points awarded to IndyCar drivers in future met with more favour from the team bosses.

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“We already had the case in the past when we changed the attribution of the points in F3, GP3 and even F2 a couple of years ago,” said Vasseur. “I think that the global picture of the championship is always changing and moving and we have to adjust the number of points for every single series now, to know if the top five of F2 is better than the top five of Indy.”

“But as Guenther said before, I think that we have a system that if we want to change or if someone has a proposal to change the point attribution, that we can discuss it,” he concluded.

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Keith Collantine
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51 comments on “F1 team bosses criticised for opposing superlicence rules break for Herta”

  1. First off. It is the FIA’s own fault for introducing this dumb system to begin with. All to prevent another Max Verstappen from entering the sport. Stupid. It would have prevented him coming in. But did nothing to prevent pay drivers like Mazepin to come in. And now it’s preventing a talent like Herta from entering the sport.

    That said. The other team bosses are being dumb dumbs about this as well. Stop thinking about your own interests for once (surely they are imagining this will give them some leverage at some point in the future for their own gains) and think about this young lad and the opportunity you will deny him and most of all the entire sport, including us spectators.

    Don’t be dumb, stop this nonsense. Team bosses need to step up and stop being stick-in-the-mud’s. FIA needs to abolish the system altogether. Let F1 teams decide who drives their cars, not some dumb arbitrary point system that was introduced because people thought a future soon-to-be two-time WDC was unworthy of coming into F1 at 17.

    1. It’s the rules. And if he is like Verstappen then we seen how he was when he started 29 accidents caused by him. So should we just abandon the rules we had for years that Hamilton, Schumacher etc had to have to become an F1 driver? Maybe hand it out to anyone who thinks they can drive because they did it on a Play station. Simple fact it’s rules. And thank goodness we have them or any idiot could drive a car in racing. Would you let a 17 year old drive a Bugatti? I bet not.

    2. Actually it’s not really a fault. It’s pretty simple, all Herta needs to do if he’s very serious about getting into F1 and has any real gumption; he would move to Europe and race in F2. Sacrifice it all and go for it.
      Trying to buck the system, sitting on the outside without much proof or merit will not get you very far or excite the ones he’s trying to impress.

      1. Go look up Colton Herta’s records, then come back and tell us if he still needs to prove he can race in the junior series that FIA deems worthy or not.

        1. If Colton Herta wants to earn a super licence, the apparent answer is yes.

        2. Herta is a solid driver, of that there is no doubt. But there are a lot of solid drivers, including in series that have more relation to F1 than Indycar does. Still, Indycar is the only series to award 40 points to its champion aside from F2. As the prime feeder series for F1, F2 gives the most amounts of superlicense points to its top 10 finishers. But Indycar’s total for the top 10 differs just a handful of points from WEC Hypercar and Formula 3. It is far from being ‘ignored because American’, as some of the quotes drivers seem to suggest.

        3. @sjaakfoo
          Herta is in 10th place in Indy, he’s in last place on his team among the four drivers on the team. Last year he was not that much better and you think he deserves an F1 seat? Maybe Herta should instead do what Piastri, Lando, Leclerc and Russell did. They didn’t come from billionaires and they still earned there way rightfully into F1.

    3. @sjaakfoo The team bosses are right to point out the realities, but I’d be perfectly okay with abolishing the points system while keeping the minimum age limit of 18 & other present requirements for gaining an SL.

    4. Mazepin waa indeed a pay driver, but for a pay driver he was good as he did earn enough points to get the super license. Also his case is a very rare one these days. Pay drivers have more or less disappeared from the grid.
      Therefore I believe that the points system should not be abolished.
      Having said that, I do not understand how F2 and F3 give more points than IndyCar.
      For me just qualifying in an IndyCar race should be sufficient to get a superlicense.

  2. The problem is not so much with the super license points, but that Herta is down in 10th in the Indycar standings. Even in F2, that only gets a driver three points.

    Yes, F2 gets more points than Indycar (champions are equal), but F2 is more like F1 than Indycar, too. It has the same tracks, same rules, same gimmicks, sometimes even the same teams.

    1. Herta is down in 10th in the Indycar standings.

      Exactly.

      Colton Herta is in his 4th year with Andretti, and he hasn’t collected enough points to qualify for a superlicence.

      1. Guys like Dixon, Newgarden, Palou and Power (taking the current standings as final) all qualify on their Indycar credentials alone. Most of them easily, too. That seems a good selection of Indycars’ best drivers.

        Indycar is the only series aside from F2 that gives instant qualifications to the champion, too, so complaints that it is undervalued aren’t as clear as some of the quoted drivers suggest. That F2 gives 40 points to the entire top 3 is an exception, it doesn’t work like that in any other FIA series either. And given how multiple Indycar races are done on ovals, which are irrelevant to F1, it makes sense to not treat it as equal to F2.

        I’m sure Herta is a solid driver, but drivers in 10th in F2, FE or the WEC also don’t get a superlicense.

  3. Granting more points for Indycar? Great idea. Granting a force majeure exception for Herta? Nah.

    1. This is exactly it. IndyCar should at least equal F2, maybe even surpass it, in terms of points awarded. But as it stands, Herta does not fulfil the current requirements. Unless they re-evaluate IndyCar to make it easier to go that route (they should do that), Herta needs to find his 40 somehow.

      1. If he hasn’t got the super licence, what should he do? Do what the rest have done and work to get it. Simple as that. But a misleading post as Teams have no say in this

    2. In the narrow, yeah, this. But in general, whatever F1/FIA does is a “whatever”, mostly. Squeeze too hard, and the gold dust squeezes through your fingers. Don’t squeeze enough, and you get too much pond scum. So long as there is a semi-functioning market system free world, it can work itself out.

      IOW, Herta-like stays in IndyCar, I watch IndyCar torrents before F1 torrents. Else, I watch F1 torrents first.

      As-is, TBH, IndyCar and F1 are neck and neck, overall, full package perspective, from a spectator who himself races POV. I cannot see myself not watching every race of both as they stand. Cool.

      1. Oh, and F2 != IndyCar. Not even close. Car specs are not the whole picture. Ask anyone in the trenches of any top level racing.

        If Ferrari, RBR, and Mercedes — as well as LeClerc, Max — were racing each other in karts, and we were all watching it would be MUCH greater than F2. Car spec is just a part of the mix.

        1. UUUgh, LeClerc, Max, AND LH….stupid mass of these cycling ads really messes up editing while in Linux/firefox.

          1. stupid mass of these cycling ads really messes up editing while in Linux/firefox.

            I used to mentally fade out ads in web pages, then the web page assemblers decided to start using animated flickering irritations, so I started using ghostery ad-on. Now I don’t see any ads, not even ones I might have been interested in. Small loss to me, large loss to the advertisers.

            Re: the point s system – make Indy and F2 equivalent points, sit back and wait for supporters of drivers still not amassing the 40 to complain again.

  4. They brought this system in to stop someone inexperienced from entering F1 and then they decided to give Indycar minimal points in order to try and make it look weak – I guess as a way of saying to American fans that Indycar is no better than F2. Don’t start complaining when your own rules bite you in the bum and you can’t have an American driver in F1 just as you’re gaining some traction over there.

    I agree with those who are opposing this – the rules wouldn’t have been broken if they’d found a talented (non-American) youngster who didn’t have the necessary points so why should they agree to break the rules now?

    If I was running a team, I’d only agree to let Herta race if I was given guarantees that the rules would also be broken when I found a driver I wanted and if each team gets one of those, you might as well abandon the points system entirely.

    1. they decided to give Indycar minimal points in order to try and make it look weak

      No one did that. Indycar is rated second among all the qualifying series, only behind Formula 2 which races on F1 weekends, on F1 tracks and with similar tyres from the same supplier.

  5. It’s a stupid system which I don’t think was ever really needed to begin with.

    1. It was badly needed. We had the likes of Zsolt Baumgartner calling themselves Formula 1 drivers on the back of 3 points finishes across 3 seasons in F3000.

      1. So?

        Again, it is almost impossible to legislate bathwater away without losing babies.

        So I think I’d rather have some bathwater swirling around so long as we lose less babies.

        1. Who is losing babies? Who are these generational driving talents that would fight for Championships in Formula 1 but cannot gather 40 super licence points to qualify them for a drive?

          1. Many cant afford a full season in F2, which costs few million euros, like Robin Frijns. If a team principle thinks a rookie is good enough, let him race, and setup a 101% rule to his teammate or something to prevent bad drivers.

      2. @proesterchen So what, He got to do a single season in F1 and helped bring a budget to a team that may not have been on the grid without it.

        And I’d also point out that while Zsolt Baumgartner may have been slow, He wasn’t dangerous and never did anything stupid. He drove cleanly and managed to pick up a few points in what was the slowest car on the grid.

        Meanwhile you have drivers like Pastor Maldonado who would have had enough points to get a super license under the current system who was far more wreckless, far more dangerous and caused far more accidents.

        Similar with Nikita Mazepin who also qualified for a super license under the current points based system despite I’d argue been far worse than Zsolt Baumgartner ever was.

        It was never needed because before it yes we got some slow pay drivers, But the worst of them never stayed around long. It had a natural way or sorting itself out.

        With the system as it now is Kimi Raikkonen would have been prevented from entering F1 in 2001, Jenson Button wouldn’t have been on the grid in 2000 and Max Verstappen wouldn’t have come in in 2015. Going back further I’m not sure Senna or Brundle would have had enough to enter F1 in 1984. Yes they may well have got to F1 a few years later but all were good enough when they got there and if a driver is as obviously good as they were and a team wants to run them then why hold them back?

        Finally the system wasn’t even introduced to stop a Zsolt Baumgartner. It was introduced to stop another Max Verstappen, Just as the 18 years old age restriction they introduced at the same time was. When you look at it like that it just highlights how stupid and unnecessary it was/is.

        1. Please have some respect for Pastor – he is a race winner. The last race winner for Williams. That alone justified his time in F1.

          1. I query the assertion that he was “far more wreckless”.

      3. That is not the reason why the current super license system was implemented. It was implemented to prevent teams from fast tracking teenagers to Formula 1. It was the “Max Verstappen Rule.” Need to be 18 and hold a driver’s license, neither which Max had back in 2014 when Toro Rosso started evaluating and testing him. It was never intended to keep wealthy guys like Mazepin and Latifi (they both qualified under the current system) out of F1. Money will always talk first in F1.

  6. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    3rd September 2022, 20:58

    He is quick enough. F1 get your act together.

    1. If Herta is faster, lets say, than Norris, tell them to call me – I will pay half his salary.

      1. He was. Here and there. When they were on the same car. To be fair, they were essentially neck and neck with each other, and hard to compare since they mostly swapped weekends.

    2. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk Being ‘quick enough’ (somewhat subjective & debatable anyway) is an unjustifiable reason such a thing doesn’t meet the force majeure criterion by definition.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        4th September 2022, 7:45

        Rules can be changed

  7. It looks like he needs to enter and win the Toyota Racing series (10 points). final race is February 2023. Alpha Tauri can run him as a test driver until then.

    1. That’s the way to approach this.

      But that doesn’t take away that the points system is a stupid idea.

      I wouldn’t mind some kind of qualifying school though like they have in golf.

      1. “I wouldn’t mind some kind of qualifying school though like they have in golf.”

        Yah, if only they had a series below F1, like maybe a whole championship. They could even call it F2.
        Crazy idea, but they could even have a lower step on the ladder … an call it something like F3.

    2. @ryanoceros He could attempt, but gaining enough points would be another matter.

  8. The rule might be dumb, but it is not a new rule.
    It would required some planning to avoid the superlicense being an impediment, but been a F1 driver seems to require a lot of planning anyway.

  9. It is F1 and no one is willing to help Red Bull when they are mopping the floor with the field.

    Rules are the rules, sounds like Herta needs to double down on his racing. Bring Riccardo in on a 1 year at AT while Herta runs other series for points.

  10. OK – a number of valid arguments above, but devils advocate here.

    FIA have the right to decide who ca join the series and do so by the points system – they would also be within their rights to say that the only way you can progress through to F1 is through the FIA pyramid via regional formulae and F3, F2 (and FE I guess) – so in fact the fact that people outside the FIA umbrella have the potential opportunity to race in F1 is something that they should feel fortunate about. In this case surely they need to game the system rather than trying to change it – they may not get the change they want.

    I’ll get my coat.

  11. May I add that it is hilarious that it’s Mr 2 Points (in his GP2 seasons) Daly, whose Indycar career I can only imagine solely exists at this point because of the position of his stepfather, who criticises the requirement to show a minimum level of performance in non-F1 categories to be granted an FIA super licence?

  12. F1 bosses are intimidated by The Colt’s glorious bouffant. If he brought a big sack of oil money they’d soon change their tune.

  13. How surprising, but the criticizing individuals should realize the realities.
    The only way for Herta to reach eligibility in time for the next season-opener is belatedly getting the SL pts he deserved from finishing 2nd in the 2018 IndyLights campaign, which he didn’t get at the time because the competitor amount was insufficient & only this factor can count as a ‘Force Majeure’ to any extent case since this was something outside his control.
    Nothing wrong with handing pts belatedly itself as long as the other affected drivers also get the pts they otherwise would’ve received from positions that grant SL pts for fairness’ sake.
    However, teams are right that FIA needs to follow the protocols & criteria they set back in 2016 when the points system began.
    If they make an exception without a strongly justifiable reason, they’d open up a chance for a mess, even risking court if other drivers wouldn’t get similar exemptions from the standard minimum requirement.
    COVID hasn’t affected his SL-gaining chances any more than any other IndyCar driver’s (those that don’t hold one & never have) since 2020, so even mentioning COVID is pointless.
    Again, literally, the only factor that to any extent has affected/delayed his chances of reaching eligibility on merit is what happened with his 2018 IndyLights campaign, so this is the only ground for differing from normal procedures, i.e., revisiting this case from four years ago, which would be okay as long as full fairness would get applied across all at-the-time affected drivers.

  14. Surely having a 107% speed rule treated as a technical regulation rather than a sporting one would suffice. Make it technical so drivers are auto disqualified if they can’t reach the minimum speed rather than allowing discretion from the stewards.

    Whilst the premise of why the rule exist seems to be accepted and understood. To me it is clear that it wasn’t designed to keep guys like Colton Herta out the sport, it is is doing that then the system needs a rethink. Telling him to quit Indycar to race F2 instead isn’t the solution here.

    1. The 107% rule was for filtering out the really bad entries (mostly car related) in a time that F1 had more entries than grid slots. These days, there aren’t enough teams to have a full grid, and even the worst teams are mostly decent (in large part due to prescriptive regulations that effectively ban bad cars).

      For example, at Zandvoort yesterday the 107% time would still be a full two seconds slower than even Latifi was.

      1. Your points are valid if you take the 107% as the absolute reference point, I think even in the slowest car you would have to have a nightmare to exceed that reference point.

        I should have been clearer in saying that it is this principle that needs to be returned and vigorously enforced as a technical requirement. Not kept as a vague sporting term where dispensation is always given anyway.

        I don’t see the reason why teams should be restricted to a pool of drivers of the FIA’s choosing, this is espeically true as it pushes people towards the FIA’s preferred development path. It is always within an F1 team’s interest to choose fast drivers so let them take the risk on the driver not having enough speed.

        1. I don’t see the reason why teams should be restricted to a pool of drivers of the FIA’s choosing, this is espeically true as it pushes people towards the FIA’s preferred development path.

          You do realise who actually owns F1, F2, F3 and FE right?

          You can’t be a medical doctor without going to an accredited university and undertaking approved training, certified by the ‘governing body’.
          It’s no different with F1 – you want a super licence, you need to do it a certain way.

    2. Telling him to quit Indycar to race F2 instead isn’t the solution here.

      It would give him a full season to learn the tracks, the tyres, the calendar, the media, the social network, the European sponsors….. And earn super licence points while he does it – all right in full visibility of all the F1 teams.

      Seriously, how is that not the ideal solution?

  15. Don’t like the game, don’t play it. It’s easy to criticize the team bosses, but if the rules are there you’ve got to respect them. Right or wrong, you can’t just undo whatever doesn’t fit you because it’s in the interest of some people to have a driver from a certain nationality.

    This wouldn’t be such a deal if it was from a driver from any other nation. As good as Colton Herta might be, if there’s a ladder you’ve got to climb, he’s still missing a few steps. We can discuss later if this system is right, but at the moment, tough luck.

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