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
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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

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2