Formula 1: FIA burst Red Bull’s dream of Colton Herta

Disappointment for Red Bull and the American fans of Formula 1: The FIA ​​puts a stop to a change from IndyCar super talent Colton Herta to AlphaTauri.

Because the 22-year-old is missing eight points for the super license, he is not allowed to compete in the premier class in 2023. The World Automobile Association had recently demonstrated a clear edge in the cause and apparently can no longer be softened.

Red Bull has no choice but to put the plans with the US pilot on hold for the time being. “We’re doing without Herta,” explains motorsport consultant Helmut Marko to AUTO BILD MOTORSPORT on Friday.

When the FIA ​​said no to an exemption for Herta, the racing team bit its teeth until the end. Marko has no understanding for this and is disappointed with the decision: “It’s a shame that the FIA ​​doesn’t recognize the value of an American driver in Formula 1,” says the Austrian.

However, since the team quickly needs planning security with a view to the driver market for 2023, Red Bull now has no other choice: “And the pressure on him is also too great,” explains Marko with a view to Herta. The American also has an obligation to his Andretti team in the IndyCar series, otherwise he would run the risk of being without a cockpit for next year if the decision was delayed for a long time.

Colton Herta’s path does not lead to Formula 1 for the time being

A Herta test originally planned for next week at the Hungaroring, with which Red Bull wanted to convince those responsible for F1 again, has therefore now been canceled.

Curious: Herta would not have driven in the AlphaTauri but in the Alpine: the French hoped that the deal would mean they could sign Pierre Gasly in return. Red Bull only wanted to let this go in the event of a Herta commitment.

Accordingly, an agreement on the Gasly issue is now a long way off. “Negotiations with Alpine are difficult,” explains Marko in relation to the Frenchman who is willing to emigrate. If there is no longer an adequate replacement candidate, Gasly will probably go into his last year of contract with the team from Faenza and Alpine will have to look elsewhere.

Andretti ennobles “successor” Herta

With the veto against Herta, Formula 1 is missing a great opportunity to build on the ongoing F1 boom in the USA: thanks to the Netflix hit “Drive to Survive”, the premier class in the States is reaching a new audience, in 2023 there will already be three US races: Las Vegas will be added to Austin and Miami, with other venues to follow. What is missing, however, is a local driver, preferably a successful one.

According to many experts, Herta would be the right man to finally end his country’s long dry spell in Formula 1. It’s been an unbelievable 44 years since the last victory and the last world title by an American: Mario Andretti became world champion in the Lotus in 1978. If you ask the now 82-year-old who he considers his legitimate successor, he replies: “Colton Herta. When I see him, I see myself.”

Herta with Mario Andretti, the last US F1 champ

Andretti, who has known Herta since he was three years old, believes: “You can’t teach anyone to be fast. You either have it in you or you don’t. There are some good drivers, some great ones too – and then there are the racers. Those are the ones that really have it. And he’s a racer.”

But why is the Italian-American so sure about Herta’s case? The reason for this was almost a year ago: Andretti’s son Michael wants to take over the Sauber racing team (currently Alfa Romeo) in Formula 1 with his Andretti Autosport team and the young Herta, who also drives for him in the IndyCar series, as a driver bring it with you. Herta sniffs the F1 before, but ultimately doesn’t get a chance back then because the takeover fails because of the money.

Like Verstappen: Herta is the youngest winner at 18

“When we were very close to the deal with Sauber, Colton spent a week at the factory in Hinwil. On the third day in the simulator he was already faster than regular drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen (2007 World Champion; ed.)”, reveals Mario Andretti. The US legend believes: “He has pure speed. Even as a rookie he was a sensation, defying all odds without making a single mistake: you need balls for that.”

In fact, Herta hits IndyCar like a bomb: At only the third start in the series, he wins his first race in Austin in 2019 and thus becomes the youngest winner in IndyCar history, at the age of just 18 years, 11 months and 22 days. The comparisons to Max Verstappen, who also achieved this feat at the age of eighteen in his first Formula 1 victory in Barcelona in 2016, are obvious.

Picture from earlier days: Colton Herta with father Bryan

But the parallels between Herta and the Dutchman go further: both of them were practically born with the talent of their racing driver fathers. Jos Verstappen and Bryan Herta nurtured their sons’ careers early on after failing to make it big – although Herta Sr. has at least four races in the upper house of US single-seater racing (two in the CART series, two in the Indy Racing League) can win.
The now 52-year-old achieved fame above all through a defeat: In 1996, Alex Zanardi snatched victory from him with the overtaking maneuver that became famous as “The Pass” in the infamous Laguna Seca corkscrew on the finish lap. 23 years later, the circle closes in a beautiful way: Son Colton starts at the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona together with Zanardi for BMW – and wins the race in the GT category straight away.

Lando Norris calls Herta “Hooligan”

The fans in Daytona will get a taste of Herta’s talent again this year: Eleven minutes before the end of the 24-hour marathon, the youngster is second in his LMP2 category and should just get the car to the finish line safely, while his Dragonspeed mechanics and teammates worried in the pits. And what does Herta do? He attacks the leader with a lot of risk, pushes past with a tough maneuver and gets the win.

“I’ve also always had that burning passion and love for the sport that I see in Colton. And when you’re so motivated, then you don’t take any prisoners,” says old master Andretti a little later to AUTO BILD MOTORSPORT and calls it an “all-or-nothing approach”. Lando Norris, of all people, gave him the nickname “Hooligan Herta” at an early age for his uncompromising driving style. The McLaren star and Herta were teammates at Carlin in British Formula 4 in 2015 and are still good friends today.

Andretti and reporter Hackbarth in conversation in Daytona

What they both have in common is, among other things, a somewhat quirky sense of humor: Herta has sometimes posed on social media with her friend Riley dressed up as Borat. Even off the slopes, the Californian is not a typical racing driver, but more of a rock star type. In his free time, he plays drums in the band “The Zibs”, which he founded with two high school friends – the long hair is a fitting addition.

In terms of sport, street courses are very popular with Herta, but the man from Santa Clarita has his weaknesses in the oval: he gets all his podium finishes on circuits. All or nothing, that is also reflected in Herta’s statistics: seven of his eleven podium finishes so far are victories. Before he finishes second, the 22-year-old prefers to risk everything – like at the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville 2021:

The Andretti driver dominated the whole weekend, was at times a second quicker than the rest of the field and was in the lead when an unfortunate pit stop under yellow threw him far back. Herta closes the deficit again in no time at all, overtakes one car after the other and five laps before the end the leader is already in the gearbox again – then he overdoes it and crashes his car into the wall: learning the hard way.

Super license prevents Herta from debut in F1

Verstappen also deformed one or the other chassis at the beginning of his career and sometimes had to take harsh criticism for his youthful high spirits. But when the Dutchman finally brings consistency to his performances, his meteoric rise can hardly be stopped. Herta now wants to follow this path and shows similar approaches: Just a few months after the damper from Nashville, he races to victory in the prestigious classic in Long Beach – from 14th place on the grid, like Verstappen last time in Spa.

Alone: ​​The FIA ​​is proving that Herta’s achievements in Europe are not recognized in any way: Because the IndyCar series is rated comparatively poorly by the sports authority when awarding super license points, the Ami currently lacks the necessary points for Formula 1 -Driver’s license. The world association is blocking an exception, although it found one when another super talent had the same problem in 2014:
Patriotic: Borat or the new US star of Formula 1?

“Otherwise, Max Verstappen would not have received a super license at the time, and neither would Kimi Raikkonen a few years earlier. If you look back, there are some guys who are now world champions and wouldn’t have qualified under the rules of the game today,” laughs McLaren boss Zak Brown about the bizarre situation.

It is the American who organized his first F1 test in Portimao, Portugal, for Herta last July. Although McLaren avoided the uncertain situation of the IndyCar talent early on – by the racing team deciding to sign Alpine junior Oscar Piastri, who as a Formula 2 champion has enough points for the super license – Brown has no doubts: “Colton has for did us a great job. The guy is ready for Formula 1.”
The decision-makers in the premier class see it differently. So the friend of loud sounds now really only has one option: The best thing to do is simply win the IndyCar championship in 2023 and thus finally prove to those responsible for F1 that not only applies to drummer Herta: America’s Got Talent.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button