F1 Facing IndyCar Drivers' Criticism after Herta Denial

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire - Getty Images
Photo credit: Icon Sportswire - Getty Images
  • Herta was being courted to take a seat at AlphaTauri in F1.

  • Under a complicated formula from the FIA, Herta had only 32 of the 40 points needed to be awarded a ‘Super License’.

  • Nyck de Vries could be in line for the seat now that Herta is out.

The denial of a wavier from the FIA for a Super License for IndyCar driver Colton Herta to race in F1 has caused a great deal of controversy in IndyCar circles, and a bit of good-natured ribbing as well.

F1 team Red Bull Racing had shown an interest in putting Herta in a seat at AlphaTauri one of its satellite teams, in 2023. The American would have replaced Pierre Gasly.


But there was a problem.

In order to race in Formula 1, a driver needs to have a Super License issued by F1’s governing body, the FIA. The method to grant such a license is based on a complicated points system that requires 40 points. According to the formula Herta, who has won 7 IndyCar series races, has 32 points. Red Bull requested an exemption from the FIA, but this past week that request was denied.

That denial led to conversations in the motorsport community starting with Red Bull.

“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,” Helmut Marko of Red Bull Racing told Motorsport-Total.

American owned Liberty Media, which owns F1, has made no secret it wants to increase its presence in America. Next season there will be a total of 3 races in the US. But there will be no American driver in the field. Andretti Autosport wanted to buy in to F1 but was rebuffed by current owners, and now Herta has been denied a seat.

Herta’s fellow IndyCar series drivers have taken to social media to let their feelings be heard, loud and clear.

“F1 is an elitist sport. They don’t want us. Remember that,” Graham Rahal posted on social media.

“They want US companies money, they want wealthy US individuals money. But they don’t care about the rest. Always has been that way, always will be.”

“And for those who want to say that Colton Herta didn’t ‘earn’ the right. You’re off base. He’s as talented if not more than the rest. He’s a proven winner. He came to the top, and has done exceptionally well. F1 has had ride buyers for years who don’t hold a candle to CH. FACTS!”

Fellow IndyCar race winner Scott McLaughlin agreed, responding to the post: “Their loss. Kid’s a stud.”

Alexander Rossi also voiced his displeasure.

“I’ve kept my mouth shut long enough, so here goes,” Alexander Rossi said on his social media.

“I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth regarding super license points. The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor. That’s great.”

“We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.”

“Motorsport still remains as the most high-profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that there had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

“Ultimately, these past decisions, whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

McLaughlin also made light of the situation posting a picture of he and fellow driver Josef Newgarden, who go by the name “Bus Bros” lounging with the caption “Just two blokes who are eligible for Super Licences #busbros”

For his part Newgarden took it a step further with a t-shirt designed, and on sale in the online Bus Bros store, with the phrase “Super License Eligible” adding, “You’re welcome.”

With little chance Herta will get the nod now, it appears that Nyck de Vries could be in line for the seat.