Bryan Herta doesn’t want an exemption for his son to receive Super License approval to F1

Bryan Herta Super License
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

MONTEREY, California – Bryan Herta, the father of NTT IndyCar Series driver and aspiring Formula One driver Colton Herta, said Friday he doesn’t want his son to get an FIA Super License through any special dispensation or waiver.

Herta’s father told NBC Sports at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca that he wants his son to “earn it the right way.” He also admitted the way the FIA issues points toward the Super License needs to be re-evaluated.

Currently, IndyCar drivers earn fewer points from the FIA than the Future FIA F2 Championship and the GP2 Series and equal points to the FIA F3 European Championship and FIA WEC-LMP1.

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With seven NTT IndyCar Series career victories and nine career poles, Herta is eight points short of getting an FIA Super License to compete in Formula One in 2023.

Interested Formula One team principals have asked the FIA to provide “clarity” on whether Herta can be granted a Super License so he would be available to compete next season (possibly with AlphaTauri).

“It’s incredible and it says a lot that Colton is getting attention from other paddocks, and I think it’s great,” Bryan Herta told NBC Sports. “The Super License points are the FIA, and they make the rules, and you have to respect and follow the rules.

“The one thing I would say is Colton deserves a chance at Formula One sometime. When that sometime is, I don’t know.

“But I think it would be unfair for him to come in as a special case. He needs to come in under the rules. If you do it, do it by the rules. If they re-evaluate how they all get points to IndyCar, that’s one thing. But the rules are what the rules are.”

Bryan Herta emphasized the family is not pushing for special consideration from the FIA.

“That could be unfair to other people, too,” Herta said. “It’s hard to open those doors. I understand that.

“We’re not involved in any of that conversation. It’s not for him. It’s for the FIA and their constituents to worry about.”

Alexander Rossi, Herta’s Andretti teammate, raced F1 in 2015 and believes in the concept of Super License points but not their application to IndyCar.

“The point of the super license points was correct,” Rossi told NBC Sports. “It was a way to keep people from buying their way into Formula One. I was on the wrong end of the stick in 2016 where there was a tourism board for a country that purchased somebody’s F1 seat. F1 tried to get rid of that sort of thing to make sure Formula One is the pinnacle in every respect and that includes the drivers.

“Where it falls short is the credibility it gives IndyCar. If you look at what a 16-year-old or 17-year-old (in F2 or F3) can get vs. what a successful 25-, 26-, 27-year-old IndyCar driver can get, it’s not equal.

“I think the Super License points system is correct, I just think IndyCar needs to be viewed and weighted differently. That’s a big hurdle to overcome with the pre-existing European arrogance that exists toward American racing.”

In addition to being Colton’s father, Bryan also calls race strategy for the driver in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti Autosport. Herta also co-owns the No. 98 entry, which Marco Andretti drove in this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Additionally, Herta also owns Bryan Herta Autosport, which competes in the Michelin Pilot Challenge with several entries (including Robert Wickens).

Should Colton get an FIA Super License and a Formula One ride, Herta’s family will remain in the United States instead of being part of the entourage that follows individual drivers around the world in Formula One.

“My career is here in the United States,” Bryan said. “I love racing with Michael Andretti. I’m not so crazy to think that Colton will never leave here. My career is not tied to his. I have employees and people on the IMSA team that I’m committed to and partners like Hyundai that I’m dedicated to. That’s my career and my life, and Colton’s is separate from that.

“It’s easy to blur those two things together because at this moment in time, we work closely together. But that has never been a commitment for him nor I.”

Colton Herta also indicated he doesn’t want an exemption and understands why the Super License requirements are in place.

“I can understand their side of the argument, they want guys to go over there and race the ladder series,” Colton said. “So, it makes sense. But at the same aspect, it seems a little bit disrespectful to IndyCar to have that few points, but I can understand both sides of the argument.”

“As for an exemption, I’m not sure that’s really the way I like to do it. I would rather not be this way.”

The most recent team to show interest in Herta was AlphaTauri, the sister team to Red Bull F1.

“It was very random,” Colton said. “It’s all of a sudden. I think maybe my dad got a call or somebody told us that Helmut Marko (the head of Red Bull’s development team) was trying to get ahold of us. I’m not really sure how it came up.

“It was like, ‘What?’ It was very random because there hasn’t been any other talk between any other team and then all of a sudden Alpine seems a little interested, and then AlphaTauri seems a little interested, and all these people are interested, it kind of came out of the blue for me.”

Herta said his July 11 test in McLaren Racing’s year-old F1 car in Portimao, Portugal, had raised his profile.

“I think that’s where it comes from,” he said. “I think I did a good job then, and people talk.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500

Ford unveils a new Mustang for 2024 Le Mans in motorsports ‘lifestyle brand’ retooling

Ford Mustang Le Mans
Ford Performance

LE MANS, France — Ford has planned a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its iconic Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.”

The Friday unveil of the new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford’s announcement in February (and a ballyhooed test at Sebring in March) that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull.

The Mustang will enter the GT3 category next year with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The IMSA entries will be a factory Ford Performance program run by Multimatic, and a customer program in WEC with Proton Competition.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, also an amateur sports car racer, told The Associated Press the Mustang will be available to compete in various GT3 series across the globe to customer teams. But more important, Farley said, is the overall rebranding of Ford Performance – done by renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee – that is aimed at making Ford a lifestyle brand with a sporting mindset.

“It’s kind of like the company finding its own, and rediscovering its icons, and doubling down on them,” Farley told the AP. “And then this motorsports activity is getting serious about connecting enthusiast customers with those rediscovered icons. It’s a big switch for the company – this is really about building strong, iconic vehicles with enthusiasts at the center of our marketing.”

Ford last competed in sports car racing in 2019 as part of a three-year program with Chip Ganassi Racing. The team scored the class win at Le Mans in 2016 in a targeted performance aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford snapping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak.

Ford on Friday displayed a Mustang with a Lee-designed livery that showcased the cleaner, simplified look that will soon be featured on all its racing vehicles. The traditional blue oval with Ford Performance in white lettering underneath will now be branded simply FP.

The new mark will be used across car liveries, merchandise and apparel, display assets, parts and accessories and in advertising.

Farley cited Porsche as an automaker that has successfully figured out how to sell cars to consumers and race cars in various series around the world while creating a culture of brand enthusiasts. He believes Ford’s new direction will help the company sell street cars, race cars, boost interest in driving schools, and create a merchandise line that convinces consumers that a stalwart of American automakers is a hip, cool brand.

“We’re going to build a global motorsports business off road and on road,” Farley told the AP, adding that the design of the Mustang is “unapologetically American.”

He lauded the work of Lee, who is considered the top helmet designer among race car drivers.

“We’re in the first inning of a nine inning game, and going to Le Mans is really important,” Farley said. “But for customer cars, getting the graphics right, designing race cars that win at all different levels, and then designing a racing brand for Ford Performance that gets rebranded and elevated is super important.”

He said he’s kept a close eye on how Porsche and Aston Martin have built their motorsports businesses and said Ford will be better.

“We’re going in the exact same direction. We just want to be better than them, that’s all,” Farley said. “Second is the first loser.”

Farley, an avid amateur racer himself, did not travel to Le Mans for the announcement. The race that begins Saturday features an entry from NASCAR, and Ford is the reigning Cup Series champion with Joey Logano and Team Penske.

The NASCAR “Garage 56” entry is a collaboration between Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and is being widely celebrated throughout the industry. Farley did feel left out of the party in France – a sentiment NASCAR tried to avoid by inviting many of its partners to attend the race so that it wouldn’t seem like a Chevrolet-only celebration.

“They’re going right and I’m going left – that NASCAR thing is a one-year deal, right? It’s Garage 56 and they can have their NASCAR party, but that’s a one-year party,” Farley said. “We won Le Mans outright four times, we won in the GT class, and we’re coming back with Mustang and it’s not a one-year deal.

“So they can get all excited about Garage 56. I almost see that as a marketing exercise for NASCAR, but for me, that’s a science project,” Farley continued. “I don’t live in a world of science projects. I live in the world of building a vital company that everyone is excited about. To do that, we’re not going to do a Garage 56 – I’ve got to beat Porsche and Aston Martin and Ferrari year after year after year.”

Ford’s announcement comes on the heels of General Motors changing its GT3 strategy next season and ending its factory Corvette program. GM, which unlike Ford competes in the IMSA Grand Touring Prototype division (with its Cadillac brand), will shift fully to a customer model for Corvettes in 2024 (with some factory support in the IMSA GTD Pro category).