Alexander Rossi confirmed in Andretti/Herta IndyCar

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Late word came Monday night from NBCSN IndyCar contributor Robin Miller in a RACER.com post that Alexander Rossi’s next move would, in fact, be to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The 24-year-old Californian has been confirmed Tuesday as driver of the No. 98 Honda for Andretti Autosport, formerly the Bryan Herta Autosport entry before Andretti Autosport and BHA announced a partnership last week.

“I’m very much looking forward to making my IndyCar Series debut this season and am proud to be racing with a team of such high caliber and pedigree as that of Andretti Autosport,” said Rossi. “As a racer through and through, I cannot wait to get started; our goal is to be competitive immediately at the first race in St. Petersburg.”

His first test will be March 1 at Sebring along with fellow rookie Spencer Pigot of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. So he won’t test this week in Phoenix.

“We’re really excited to have Alexander join the team,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “His credentials speak for his ability and we’re confident he’ll transition seamlessly into IndyCar racing. It’s neat to have the last three American F1 drivers in 25 years to be under one roof, I think it speaks to the level of talent we have.”

“Personally, I’m really pleased at how well all these pieces have come into place for this group,” Herta added. “Adding Alexander as a driver is going from strength to strength for us. We can’t wait to get on track together and start our preparation for the 2016 season.”

The move provides Rossi a landing place after being passed over for the final spot on the Formula 1 grid with the Manor Racing MRT squad, and a driver for the Herta-led IndyCar as part of the expected 21-car full-season grid Stateside.

He’ll also be the third Sunoco rookie-of-the-year contender, alongside fellow American who’d had both an international and U.S. focus in Conor Daly and ex-Marussia F1 driver Max Chilton, who raced in the U.S. most of the season last year with Carlin in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series.

Rossi has U.S. race experience – he’s a past Formula BMW Americas champion – but has opted to focus primarily on Europe for the past several years.

The buildup led Rossi into Formula 1 last season in a five-race cameo with Manor, where he generally outperformed Englishman Will Stevens. Rossi and Stevens were known to be in contention for the second seat that eventually went to Indonesian Rio Haryanto.

With Rossi’s confirmation Tuesday, it leaves just the second Dale Coyne Racing Honda, the No. 19 car, as the lone full-season entry yet to have its driver revealed.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevrolet, which Carpenter will drive in oval races, does not yet have a driver for the road and street course races. If one is named, it would bring the field up from 21 expected full-season cars to 22 cars.

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.