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

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

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

All the planets are aligned. All but one. Alpine wants Pierre Gasly, Pierre Gasly wants Alpine but AlphaTauri doesn’t want anyone. The Faenza team, whose drivers are exclusively designated by Red Bull and its adviser Helmut Marko, has only one idea in mind. He wants to lure Colton Herta, a young American who plays in Indycar, before releasing the French. Problem: The 22-year-old driver doesn’t have the precious sesame to evolve into Formula 1.

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

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Therefore, every driver wishing to obtain the golden ticket must first meet a certain number of conditions (be of age, have a driving license *) and, above all, obtain a total of 40 points in the motorsport championships governed by the ‘International Automobile Federation.

Herta doesn’t have enough points

For each discipline, the authority has defined a scale to weight the rewards in points according to the level of difficulty. For example, a Formula 2 title automatically earns the required 40 units, while a first place finish in the Endurance Championship (WEC) earns only 30. And only 15 in the DTM. These points are cumulative in the last three years of testing the driver, or in 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 perform well enough in Indycar to reach the famous 40 pawn bar. He finished seventh in 2019 (4 points), third in 2020 (20 points) and fifth in 2021 (8 points). Have you done the math? He only has 32 points so far. He freezes.

In theory, the Californian cannot therefore claim a place in Formula 1. But there remains a small possibility: when a driver has more than 30 units, the FIA ​​can decide, at its discretion, to grant him a derogation. The Herta case therefore has every chance of provoking infighting in Formula 1.

Conflicting interests

On the one hand, Red Bull and AlphaTauri hope the body shop is kind to the 22-year-old driver, whom they see as the only credible alternative to replace Pierre Gasly – especially from a marketing point of view – while others (Mick Schumacher) are on the market. . “If it’s not Colton Herta, Pierre Gasly will stay and nothing will change“, Franz Tost, boss of the team from Faenza, announced at a press conference. Alpine too must cross his fingers, as being able to attract the Frenchman after his disastrous handling of Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri cases would be a small miracle.

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

And the top of Formula 1, in all this? They could be torn. On the other hand, the arrival of an American driver could allow to accentuate the popularity of the discipline across the Atlantic, while the American market is already growing strongly. On the side, it would question its credibility, which doesn’t really need to be discussed. The tension could therefore rise again in the next few days …

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

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