Daniel Ricciardo will ‘definitely’ take up Dale Jr.’s Xfinity offer one day

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Daniel Ricciardo says that he will “definitely” take it up Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s open invite to race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series one day, but only once he has hit his targets in Formula 1.

During a Twitter Q&A last year, Earnhardt said that Ricciardo would be welcome to race in a JR Motorsports car on a road course at any time.

Ricciardo responded by saying that he would look at his 2016 race calendar, which is already poised to be busier than ever thanks to a record-breaking 21 F1 grands prix.

Speaking to reporters at the Red Bull RB12 launch in London, Ricciardo said that he would definitely enter an Xfinity race one day – ideally alongside Earnhardt – but that he would want to dedicate some time to preparing for it so he could be competitive.

“I would love to,” Ricciardo said when asked if he could do an Xfinity race in 2016.

“To be honest, I didn’t get to a point where I asked Christian [Horner]. Because if I did it, I would want to do it properly. I would hate to go there and get my ass kicked basically. Then it looks bad on F1 as well. The cars would be so different, I would want to make sure that I tested and got comfortable.

“So I think in the calendar there were some races that I could do which didn’t clash, but the question was when could I do the testing. This is even before asking Red Bull, but just in my mind I was like ‘when could I test? When could I get to America?'”

Ricciardo said that he would most likely give it a go once he had checked off his targets in F1, where he has already claimed three grand prix victories and finished third in the drivers’ championship two years ago.

“I would love to do it one day, but now, not only is it a bit rushed but I’ve definitely got targets here in Europe and in Formula 1 which I want to tick off first,” Ricciardo said.

“Sure I’ve ticked off the winners column, but the world title is the real one. It will wait a little bit, but sure, one day, I think I will definitely take up his offer.

“Hopefully race alongside him, that would be cool.”

Clashes will prove to be an issue for more than just Ricciardo in 2016, with 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg unable to defend his title due to a clash with the European Grand Prix on June 19.

Ricciardo said it was a shame for Hulkenberg that there was this clash, while also expressing an interest in taking part in a 24-hour race one day.

“I think it sucks if you’re Nico Hulkenberg, because sure he had a seat with his name on it, and then yeah it’s all kind of come undone,” Ricciardo said.

“Again it’s one of those things right now I’m not that worried about. I would have loved to have done it, but it’s a bit like NASCAR, that’s the beauty of it. It can come later down the track. One day it would be great to do it.

“I watched the Daytona 24 a few weeks ago, and I was like that would be cool. It’s our pre-season so we’ll see. Maybe that one could be on the cards a little sooner. At least it’s not during the season. It’d be cool to do a 24-hour race and just experience that challenge.”

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.