Pierre Gasly at Alpine in 2023: Colton Herta, the last obstacle for AlphaTauri to release him

All the planets are aligned. All but one. Alpine wants Pierre Gasly, Pierre Gasly wants Alpine but AlphaTauri does not want anyone. The Faenza team, whose pilots are exclusively designated by Red Bull and its adviser Helmut Marko, even has only one idea in mind. She wants to attract Colton Herta, a young American playing in Indycar, before releasing the Frenchman. Problem: the 22-year-old driver does not have the precious sesame to evolve in Formula 1.

Herta does not hold a “Super License”, a kind of license necessary to join the elite of motorsport. This document, born out of controversy nearly 40 years ago (1984), has continued to evolve over time, and should enable F1 to maintain a very high level of competitiveness.

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Thus, each driver wishing to obtain the golden ticket must first meet a certain number of conditions (being of legal age, having a driving licence*) and, above all, obtaining a total of 40 points in motor sport championships governed by the International Automobile Federation.

Herta does not have enough points

For each discipline, the authority has defined a scale in order to weight the rewards in points according to the level of difficulty. For example, a Formula 2 title automatically earns the necessary 40 units, while a first place in the Endurance Championship (WEC) only earns 30. And only 15 in the DTM. These points are cumulative over the driver’s last three years of practice, or over the last two seasons added to the current one.

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For Herta, this is where it gets complicated. The American did not obtain good enough results in Indycar to reach the famous bar of 40 pawns. He finished seventh in 2019 (4 points), third in 2020 (20 points), and fifth in 2021 (8 points). Did you do the math? He only has 32 points so far. It gets stuck.

Theoretically, the Californian cannot therefore claim a Formula 1 seat. But there remains a tiny possibility: when a driver counts more than 30 units, the FIA ​​can decide, at its own discretion, to grant him a waiver. The Herta case then has every chance of causing infighting in Formula 1.

Competing interests

On the one hand, Red Bull and AlphaTauri hope that the body will be lenient with the 22-year-old driver, whom they consider to be the only credible alternative to replace Pierre Gasly – especially from a marketing point of view -, while d others (Mick Schumacher) are on the market. “If it’s not Colton Herta, Pierre Gasly will stay and nothing will change“, has already announced Franz Tost, boss of the Faenza team, at a press conference. Alpine must also cross its fingers, since succeeding in attracting the Frenchman after his disastrous management of the Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri cases would constitute a small miracle.

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Other teams have much less interest in seeing a young man from Indycar land in F1. Officially, this could set a precedent and encourage other inexperienced pilots to try their luck. Unofficially, they fear that the available buckets are even less accessible for the young shoots they form, with tens of millions of euros, within their academies.

And the leaders of Formula 1, in all this? They could be torn. On the tails side, the arrival of an American pilot could make it possible to accentuate the popularity of the discipline across the Atlantic, while the American market is already growing strongly. Side face, it would question its credibility, which does not really need that to be discussed. The tension could therefore still rise in the coming days…

*These conditions were redefined after the many controversies linked to the arrival of Max Verstappen in F1, when he was only 16 years old.

End of controversial Grand Prix at Monza: has the FIA ​​made the right decision?

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