Colton Herta’s Formula 1 Dreams Are Officially Dead

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Colton Herta at the 2022 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

Colton Herta at the 2022 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
Photo: James Black / Penske Entertainment

While the writing has been on the wall for a while now, the FIA has officially confirmed what we already knew: It will not grant Colton Herta an exemption for a super license, which means that Herta will not join Red Bull Racing’s junior team AlphaTauri.

If you’ve missed out on the drama here, let me sum it up. To race in F1, you need something called a super license. To get a super license, you need to accumulate 40 points in a three-year span. You accumulate those by competing in other series; your finishing position in a series dictates the number of points you receive. Herta did not have enough points for a super license; he only had 32. However, Red Bull believed it could make a strong case that Herta should get the super license anyway.

Still, there were a few caveats and loopholes that could have been executed, had the FIA chosen to go that route. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, four years of competition have been counted toward a super license; that would include Colton Herta’s 2018 Indy Lights season. However, the FIA mandates that a series field 10 full-time drivers in order to qualify for super license points. That 2018 season only had eight drivers. The super license regulations do, also, include a caveat that the FIA can make exceptions for drivers who have displayed talent or who have experienced some sort of life-altering event that was not their fault.

Red Bull later tried to argue that, discounting ovals, Herta’s IndyCar results would have made him more than qualified to race in F1 — but the FIA wasn’t having any of it.

According to Motorsport.com, a spokesperson for the FIA said, “The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA super license.

“The FIA continuously reviews its regulations and procedures, including with respect to super license eligibility, with the main factors being considered with respect to this topic being safety, experience and performance in the context of the pathway.”

While plenty of Americans were rightfully excited to see the first F1 driver on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, it seems we’ll have to hold out hope that Formula 2 driver Logan Sargeant will grab an F1 seat in the near future. With Nicholas Latifi’s departure from Williams, Sargeant could find himself there sooner rather than later. 

It seemed like AlphaTauri was more than aware of its failure yesterday, when it announced that Yuki Tsunoda would be joining Pierre Gasly for the 2023 season. However, this move also discounts Herta from talks with other teams for the time being.

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