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.”