Can the IndyCar driver leave if Andretti buys a team?
In case you haven’t heard it, various IndyCar and Formula 1 websites, blogs and message boards, have practically placed Andretti Autosport and his namesake Michael Andretti in the Formula 1 paddock, despite no firm reports on such an agreement. In addition, at many of these sites Andretti takes driver Colton Herta with him.
The first statement is quite obscure, of which only a handful of people in the world know the full truth. The second, even assuming the first, might not be entirely clear, but it’s much easier to explain with rules, stats, and more.
Here is what we know:
Is Andretti Autosport heading to F1?
The short answer: Maybe.
Considering F1’s massive push to make inroads in the United States, with additional F1 racing, the momentum that Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” has created here, ESPN’s TV ratings and the fact that ‘he is owned by an American media company and has been missing an American driver since Alexander Rossi joined the IndyCar everything seems to be going in that direction.
This case is only strengthened when you consider Andretti’s desire, as he and others have created a financial arm (his Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC, announced this spring) to acquire the appropriate funds and the ownership group that operates the Alfa Romeo The F1 team seems willing to discuss such a deal.
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But given that reports from around the world over the past month have said it all, since “a deal is done” it’s “almost done”, it’s “probably likely to happen”, it’s “close. but not yet there “or that Andretti is in” serious discussions “or even just have strong desires with parts not yet in place, it seems that nothing is close to the concrete. The United States Grand Prix in Austin in two weeks time would certainly provide a great place for such a deal to be made – or at least attempted, if Andretti’s finances were properly aligned – but an announcement doesn’t look imminent.
That in itself should at least mitigate the second part of that equation – Herta headed for F1, as was his career trajectory six or seven years ago. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Andretti will soon acquire a controlling stake in the investment company (Islero Investments) owned by parent company Longbow Finance, which bought Sauber Motorsport, and which headed and owned at it. original Alpha Romeo F1.
Can Colton Herta drive in F1?
To race in F1, a driver must have a “super license” from the FIA, the governing body of motorsport in the world, including F1. The super license is how the FIA regulates the drivers it deems qualified to race in what is considered the epitome of motorsport. While drivers wishing to register for the IndyCar must pass various tests on certain types of course, scored either subjectively by its marshals, or objectively by executing a predetermined number of laps at certain speeds.
To obtain a license, a driver must accumulate 40 points over a three-year period from the FIA’s own grid, where he awards a certain number of points for finishing at a certain position in a variety of racing championships to worldwide. Formula 2 is considered the most valuable – with a driver finishing 1st-3rd just once over a three-year period, earning enough CVs to claim a license. IndyCar follows, with a championship of 40 points, followed by 2nd place (30), 3rd (20) and so on, up to 10th.
With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FIA issued an amendment; a driver can select three of their last four years to accumulate 40 points. This “excluded” year does not necessarily have to be 2020. Also, if a driver has totaled 30 points by adding three of his last four years, but can claim that he was unable to reach 40 points due to “circumstances independent of its will or for reasons of force majeure ”, the FIA is free to grant a license.
How do the super license rules apply to Colton Herta?
By strictly following the rules, Herta has accumulated 32 points considering his last three seasons in IndyCar. His fourth most recent racing season (2018, where he finished 2nd at Indy Lights) doesn’t seem to count, but we’ll get to that in a second. The 21-year-old American driver finished 5th in IndyCar in 2021 (8 points), 3rd in 2020 (20 points) and 7th in 2019 (4 points).
In an ideal world, Herta’s finalist at Pato O’Ward at Indy Lights in 2018 would earn him 12 points, which, when you ditch his 2019 IndyCar campaign, would take him straight to the 40-point threshold. The problem, however, is that a series of races must have a minimum of 16 drivers competing throughout the season and each event must have at least 12 drivers at the start of each race for a driver to receive 100% of the super license points.
A series with at least 12 in each event and 12 to 15 drivers throughout the season would give a driver 75% of his points earned. But if a series is contested where at least one race takes place without 12 drivers on the grid, drivers competing in that year are not eligible to receive super license points.
If this rule sounds familiar to you, it’s because it played a major role in O’Ward’s arrival in the IndyCar rather than the F1 pipeline after winning the 2018 Indy Lights title and then losing his IndyCar tour promised full time when Harding Steinbrenner Racing failed to find funding for his race. After winning a handful of races for Carlin (including a failed qualifying attempt for the Indy 500), O’Ward signed to become a member of the Red Bull junior squad, which would have put him in the pipeline. for a possible future opportunity in F1. But we realized that only one race in its championship season in Lights even had nine cars – far from the 12 needed. Most ran with seven, and a few had eight.
Following:O’Ward’s roller coaster year continues as he lands in F2 with MP Motorsport
With that, he lost 15 precious points, and after this FIA decision in 2019, it looks like Herta would suffer the same fate. Some have pointed to the FIA’s leeway with the “30 points / force majeure” rule as the reason Herta could qualify now. After all, it was certainly “out of his control” that the 2018 Indy Lights belt had far too few cars for him to collect any performance points. It’s pretty clear, however, that this is not the intended use of the rule. The limited number of drivers had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, and if the FIA already decided that such a season did not meet its standards for O’Ward, it would be a terribly strange look for them to change speed.
Others noted that drivers can earn a point every time they cover at least 100 kilometers in an F1 free practice session (up to 10 points for their license), but with only six races remaining. in the 2021 F1 season, that also seems a moot point.
So unless the FIA completes a sharp turn, no, Herta will not take the currently vacant 2022 Alfa Romeo seat, even if Andretti acquires the team in the near future.
How can Colton Herta get a super license?
There is a clear path for Herta to join F1 for the 2023 campaign, should he be offered a seat. Considering the super license point structure when it comes to the IndyCar and the 32 points it has from 2019-21, it is expected to finish 3rd in the Championship in 2022, giving it 20 more points and losing its 7th place. in 2019 out of the equation. Finishing 4th would only give him 8 points to replace those 4 and would leave him at 36 points and below the super license threshold.
Which IndyCar drivers are super eligible for the license?
At the end of the 2021 season, excluding the points they have gained since 2018, Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon all qualify on the basis of their 40 points for winning (at least one) Astor Cup during this period. . Additionally, Scott McLaughlin would be eligible due to his back-to-back Supercar Championships in 2018-2020 (15 points each), as well as IndyCar rookie Callum Ilott, who received 40 points for finishing 2nd in F2 in 2020.
There are nine other drivers who competed in the IndyCar in 2021 who would either be immediately eligible because they are licensed and have raced in F1 each of the last three years, or would become very easily eligible due to their respective backgrounds in F1. The first would include Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen and Pietro Fittipaldi. This last category of drivers (Marcus Ericsson, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, Sébastien Bourdais, Max Chilton and Juan Pablo Montoya) would only have to cover 300 kilometers at racing speed in an F1 car over a maximum duration of two days, either as part of a sanctioned test or an official F1 track session. This should not take place more than 180 days before the said driver applies for a license.