Deal bringing Colton Herta to F1 is in place for the 2023 season, Red Bull adviser says

AUTO: AUG 19 IndyCar - World Wide Technology Raceway
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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PORTLAND, Oregon — McLaren supports Colton Herta receiving an exemption to compete in Formula One next season, and Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko says a deal is in place to bring the American to the 2023 grid.

Any deal would be contingent on Herta, a 22-year-old IndyCar star from California, receiving an exemption from F1’s governing body for the Super License required to compete, Marko told SiriusXM.

“Astonishingly enough, all of the parties and teams involved, we found an agreement,” Marko said. “First we have to get a definite answer (from the FIA) and I think it should be by Monza,” site of the next F1 race.

The Dutch Grand Prix was rife with rumors and speculation that Herta is in line for a seat in 2023 with AlphaTauri, the junior team for Red Bull.

That created spirited debate over the rules for licensing a driver and if Herta, winner of seven races over four IndyCar seasons, should be considered for an FIA exemption. Andretti Autosport teammate Romain Grosjean, an F1 veteran, tweeted Saturday that Herta deserves a Super License.

McLaren head Zak Brown told The Associated Press the team is in favor of the FIA clearing Herta to compete. Herta is under an IndyCar contract with Andretti Autosport through 2023 but has an F1 contract with McLaren through 2024.

Herta tested for McLaren in Portugal over two days in July and has been on the McLaren simulator.

“We have had Colton in our simulator and our F1 car for testing and are probably in a better position than anyone to give an opinion,” Brown said. “Our opinion is that he would be a great addition to the F1 grid and is very deserving of a Super License.”

Drivers need to accumulate 40 points to obtain a Super License based on their best three performances over the previous four seasons. The FIA does not govern IndyCar or NASCAR, and as such, America’s top racing series don’t rate highly in the licensing system.

Herta is expected to have just 32 points ahead of 2023, and although he can gain points by participating in F1 practice sessions, he doesn’t currently have any sessions scheduled this year. Herta headed into Sunday’s race at Portland International Raceway, the penultimate race on the IndyCar schedule, with one victory this year and ranked a career-low 10th in the standings.

But that McLaren was willing to publicly back Herta on an issue unrelated to its own immediate needs likely indicates that a multiteam agreement is in the works to get Herta onto the F1 grid. The last American to race in F1 was Alexander Rossi in 2015.

Under the likely negotiations referenced by Marko:

– Herta would be released from any commitments to McLaren, which on Friday won the rights to Alpine reserve driver Oscar Piastri.

– Alpine wants Pierre Gasly released from AlphaTauri, which would open the seat for Herta and give Alpine a replacement for Piastri, who was supposed to replace Fernando Alonso until the young Australian driver instead chose McLaren.

– Alpine would release Piastri before the end of 2022 so that McLaren can begin working with him before Jan. 1, in exchange for McLaren giving up all its rights to Herta to get the multiteam driver movement in motion.

Herta, for his part, previously told the AP that he’s aware of all the speculation surrounding him but doesn’t want to even think about his options until after next Sunday’s season finale at Laguna Seca, where he’s the two-time defending race winner.

His father, former driver Bryan Herta, handles his management and Herta said he told his dad to not discuss 2023 with him until after the IndyCar season ends. Bryan Herta respected those wishes before Sunday’s race at Portland and shook his head, saying “Nope, nope, nope,” as an AP reporter approached.

Bryan Herta said he had heard about Marko’s comment that a deal had been reached for his son to drive for Red Bull’s junior team.

“A lot of people say a lot of things,” Bryan Herta said. “I’ve got nothing to say at this time.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III