Marussia also set to miss United States GP

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The United States Grand Prix is set to be contested by just nine teams and 18 cars after Bernie Ecclestone told reporters today that Marussia would not make the race in Austin next weekend.

Following yesterday’s news that Caterham F1 Team would be missing both the US GP and the Brazilian Grand Prix whilst a new buyer is found, F1 supremo Ecclestone said that the financially-troubled Marussia would also not make the grid at the Circuit of The Americas.

Reports from both the BBC and Reuters quoted Ecclestone as saying: “Neither of those two teams are going to go to America.”

For some time, Marussia has been known to be struggled financially, with sources inside the paddock even predicting that the team would not be racing beyond the end of the European leg of the 2014 season.

After scoring its first points in F1 back in Monaco, the team is poised for its best-ever finish in the constructors’ championship, currently ranking in ninth place.

However, with an 18-car field set to race in Austin, it gives 10th-placed Sauber a great chance to get on the scoreboard and move above Marussia, thus denying the Anglo-Russian team a great pot of prize money.

Marussia raced with just one car in Russia two weeks ago following Jules Bianchi’s accident at the Japanese Grand Prix that left him with severe head injuries. He remains in hospital fighting for his life.

Caterham has now been taken over by its administrators, and will not resume racing until fresh investment is found. The team does hope to be on the grid for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Should the grid fall to just 18 cars in Austin, the financial crisis that has been spoken about in Formula 1 for so long would finally have hit with considerable force. As the smaller teams fought for a cost cap and other cost-cutting measures, the bigger outfits continually refused to play ball.

As a result, the United States Grand Prix looks set to be contested by just 18 cars, marking the lowest grid since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix when BAR was banned for running under the minimum weight in San Marino.

Had Marussia planned to run two cars in Austin, this news will also come as a bitter blow to American racer Alexander Rossi, who had hoped to make his full F1 debut on home soil. He was named as the team’s entry for the Russian Grand Prix before it opted to run just one car.

In the rights that all teams agree to in F1, there is a clause that allows them to miss three races. As NBCSN’s Will Buxton suggests here, it may be that Marussia will take advantage of this to put more of its resources into its 2015 campaign.

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “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 here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those 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.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.