Red Bull’s push to put Colton Herta in one of its Formula 1 team cars appears to be over.
The IndyCar driver had been mentioned as a possible candidate for a seat at Red Bull's junior AlphaTauri team for 2023. But Herta didn't automatically qualify for F1 eligibility because of a lack of super license points and Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko told Motorsport Total that the team has abandoned its pursuit of an exception for Herta.
Now Red Bull has finally given up hope that the FIA Herta could still issue a super license: "It's a shame that you don't realize what value an American driver, especially a guy like Colton Herta, would have for booming America with three races," confirms motorsport consultant Helmut Marko on request from 'Motorsport-Total.com'.
That means Herta, 22, will be back in IndyCar in 2023 with Andretti Autosport. He was scheduled to drive in an Alpine F1 test this week but that was scratched.
No American driver has run full-time in Formula 1 since Scott Speed in 2006 and Herta could be the best chance for an American to race in F1 anytime soon. And it reasons that F1’s explosive American appeal would continue to grow with an American driver in the series and three races in the United States with the addition of a race in Las Vegas
Herta has won seven IndyCar races across the past four seasons and has finished in the top 10 in points in each of his four full-time seasons in IndyCar. He was 10th in 2022 with just one race win as Andretti Autosport has struggled to keep up with the top teams in the IndyCar Series. Herta got his first taste of F1 in the summer of 2022 when he participated in a two-day test for McLaren after signing a deal with the team to do so.
But Herta has just 32 of the 40 points needed to get his super license and run in F1. Had he finished fourth or higher in 2022, he would have met the points minimum. Red Bull had said they were considering applying for a COVID-related waiver for Herta, though Bryan Herta — Colton's father and a former IndyCar driver — said he didn't want Colton to get an exemption to race in F1 in 2023.
If anything, Herta’s situation is a good example of why the super license system should be re-evaluated and more points possibly awarded for IndyCar accomplishments. It’s hard to argue that Herta isn’t qualified to get a shot in a Formula 1 car, especially after watching Nikita Mazepin. A driver who finishes fifth in the Formula 2 standings gets more than double the points (20) than the driver who finishes fifth in the IndyCar Series (8).
But at the same time, the qualifying system has been in place since 2015 and its rules outlining how a driver can race in F1 have been very clear. Had Herta and Andretti Autosport put together a better season in 2022, this wrangling over his super license points could have been avoided.