Formula One

With FIA expected to decline Super License exemption, Bryan Herta mulls son’s next move

Colton Herta winter series
Greg Doherty/Getty Images

MONTEREY, California – Bryan Herta said there are no plans to move his son, Colton, to an international “winter series” to accumulate the eight points needed to acquire an FIA Super License.

The FIA indicated Saturday that it likely wouldn’t allow Herta a special waiver to join F1 and that he must accumulate the necessary amount of Super License points based on its convoluted system that heavily favors European feeder series over the NTT IndyCar Series.

“The FIA will not be pressured by any teams into decisions on matters such as super license points,” an FIA spokesperson told Autosport. “The FIA President has implemented robust governance, and we will abide by that.”

Herta has 32 points, and there would be a few options to race in series over the winter that would allow him to amass the 40 points necessary for a Super License required to race in Formula One.

AlphaTauri and Alpine both have expressed interest in the 22-year-old NTT IndyCar Series driver from Santa Clarita, California.

With seven victories in the NTT IndyCar Series, it would seem that Herta has more than proven himself worthy of an FIA Super License. But consider that Linus Lundquist earned enough points for a Super License by clinching the Indy Lights championship Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“I don’t really know what the options would be,” Herta’s father and agent, Bryan, told a small group of reporters including NBC Sports Saturday. “I don’t know with his license if he can race in F3 or F4. It’s really not up to him or up to us, it would be up to people over there to decide what to do.

“Let me say this, I understand both sides of the argument. I have an emotional side to one side of the argument, but I also have an intellectual understanding of both sides of the argument.

“It was clear before the season started what the requirements were, and it hasn’t changed. It’s up to them.”

Bryan Herta told NBC Sports in a Friday interview that he didn’t a special exemption or treatment from the FIA for Colton.

IndyCar officials are not involved in the number of points the FIA awards for Super License points because frankly, it’s a situation that doesn’t impact the series.

“I don’t see why IndyCar would want to do that,” Bryan Herta said. “Why would they want to make it easier for their drivers to leave here?

“I don’t think it’s in their best interest to do that. People here that race in the sport and understand the sport recognize IndyCar’s value. I don’t think anything will change that.”

Bryan Herta is the strategist for his son on the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda and said it’s “business as usual” this weekend at Laguna Seca. Colton is trying to win Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey for the third consecutive time.

“We weren’t happy with the car in practice, and we have to make it better for qualifying,” Bryan said. “That’s all we are thinking about.

“This doesn’t really change anything for me.”

Serving as Colton’s manager has been an “interesting” situation for the former IndyCar driver who is a two-time winner at Laguna Seca.

“You have to feel fortunate to see Colton in that position where teams are expressing interest publicly and that is amazing and clearly genuine,” Bryan said. “Everybody is clear what they are hoping for and want to get out of this, but that is not in anybody’s hands there.

“Colton has to accept whatever decision happens.”

Andretti Autosport would need to know soon if they have to fill the No. 26 seat in IndyCar.

“Having a resolution is better for everybody,” Bryan said. “It’s uncomfortable with people, team owners, other drivers over there making it specific to Colton.

“He wants to take a chance at Formula One. I believe he is good enough to take that chance, but you don’t want to go over there with an asterisk walking in.

“I’m a little surprised how contentious and how public the whole thing has been. I would rather it be settled quietly, and that’s it.”

Both Hertas expressed they were surprised how much excitement and interest Formula One teams have shown — particularly since a July test with McLaren Racing (which signed Colton to a testing contract this season).

But it has also put a target on Colton’s back.

“There is no question Zak Brown and McLaren gave Colton an opportunity to drive a Formula One car, and that went well,” Bryan said. “There is no doubt that had a positive impact on his perception from other people in that paddock after that.”

As his manager, Colton has an agent that has experienced all facets of racing, from driving IndyCars to owning Indy 500 winner cars and a successful IMSA Sports Car program.

“This has nothing to do with me, I’m just here to help him navigate and accomplish his goals,” Bryan said. “I think he is in a tremendous position here with Andretti in the IndyCar Series. He is not unhappy.

“But an F1 opportunity is exciting too.

“If those are your two possible outcomes, I don’t think there is a bad outcome for him in any of that. We just have to wait and see that happens.”

The Herta Way, though, is to make this decision the right way, without demeaning one series over the other or getting special dispensation to make the move.

“What Colton wants to do is protect IndyCar and not create an impression he is dying to get away from,” Bryan said. “It’s not something to run away from or feel lesser about.

“But Formula One is Formula One. On a global scale, it’s the biggest form of motorsport, undisputed. Any driver worth their salt would like to try it.”

As a son, Colton has a father that raised him well and has prepared him for life.

“He is a good kid,” Bryan said. “I think my pride level and his mom’s pride level is based around who he is, his value system and how good he is.

“Our pride in him has less to do with how fast he can drive a race car.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500