Red Bull has made it plain that Pierre Gasly can only join Alpine if Colton Herta is given a superlicense for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The American IndyCar driver will be released by Andretti Autosport and McLaren and join AlphaTauri for the upcoming season, according to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, who made the announcement over the weekend.
The FIA must grant Herta a waiver from the requirement that a driver earns 40 points before becoming eligible for an F1 superlicence, therefore this is a conditional statement. The Californian currently only has 32 points and is unable to place high enough in this year’s IndyCar rankings to earn those extra eight points. But Marko thinks Herta has a good case.
“We looked at the regulations, we discussed it with the FIA,” the Red Bull boss told F1 reporter Chris Medland. “Because of COVID, there’s a special regulation that you can take three years and also if one result isn’t maximum points and outside the driver’s [hands] they can give the points.”
“So it’s nothing unreasonable… He won seven IndyCar races and that’s comparable to a Grand Prix, so it would be a shame if he wouldn’t get a superlicence.”
However, some team owners are opposed to the idea, feeling that an exception runs the risk of damaging the motorsport career path that the majority of new F1 drivers have recently followed through F3 and F2. And they have Stefano Domenicali, the head of F1, as a strong supporter in opposing the idea.
“The sport needs to respect the rules,” Domenicali was quoted by Motorsport.com. “Of course, American drivers or other drivers are very important.”
“If he is eligible to come in F1 because he has the points, it’s fantastic news, but there is a ladder to follow, there is a protocol to respect, and that is the situation. So it’s really what I believe is right to do.”
Pierre Gasly is free to join Alpine with Red Bull provided certain requirements are completed, thus all of this has consequences for the Frenchman’s future.
“Pierre is a Red Bull Racing driver on loan to AlphaTauri,” Christian Horner told Sky Sports. “There’s a lot of moving plates at the moment which we are following with interest… So we’ll see how it pans out.”
“That’s a key element. [We’re] not going to release Pierre if we don’t have something exciting to put in that car.”
The Red Bull Boss, though, sees a great talent in the 22-year-old Herta: “I think he’s an exciting talent… He’s a younger American guy that’s been a standout talent in the US.”
“So it’ll be very interesting to see how he performs in F1 and F1 obviously is growing in popularity in the US market at the moment, and to have a successful US driver could be very interesting… It could be interesting for us, in the longer term.”
“We’ve got contracts with our existing drivers at AlphaTauri and they’ve produced a great stable of drivers for us to draw upon, whether it be Sebastian [Vettel] or Max [Verstappen] or Daniel [Ricciardo] over the years.”