Brown: Herta case shows F1 superlicence system needs review

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown thinks the FIA's superlicence rules need to be reviewed following IndyCar ace Colton Herta's struggles to pass the threshold needed to race in Formula 1.

Brown: Herta case shows F1 superlicence system needs review

In the wake of Alpine's driver drama, Red Bull was willing to release Pierre Gasly from his 2023 contract to join the Enstone team, but only if it could get multiple IndyCar race winner Herta to replace him at AlphaTauri.

But with Herta on just 32 superlicence points out of the 40 needed to be allowed to race in F1, that avenue appears to have closed as the FIA announced it wouldn't make any exceptions for the American.

That prompted angry comments from Red Bull's Helmut Marko, who said it was "incomprehensible" that a winner of seven IndyCar races couldn't get a licence and that it was a missed opportunity to get a talented American driver into F1.

McLaren's Brown, who fields the Arrow McLaren SP team in IndyCar, has run Andretti Autosport IndyCar racer Herta in a year-old McLaren F1 car but would have been willing to release him to Alpine.

Speaking to select media at Laguna Seca's IndyCar finale, he said "the whole licensing system needs to be reviewed" as he feels IndyCar is undervalued relative to Formula 2.

Both the IndyCar and F2 champion get the required 40 points for a superlicence, but from second place down IndyCar is valued less than F1's main feeder series despite its stronger pedigree.

"I get that the rules are what the rules are and that rules shouldn’t be broken, but I question whether just because those are the rules that are in place now that those are the correct rules," he said.

"Someone of Colton’s caliber, or Pato's [O’Ward] caliber or half the [IndyCar] field are Formula 1 capable. 

"If someone like Colton who’s won a lot of IndyCar races isn’t eligible for a superlicence then I think we need to review the superlicence system."

Brown points out that world champions Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen, who entered the sport at a young age and skipped racing at a F2 or equivalent level entirely, wouldn't have been eligible either had the current system been in place when they entered grand prix racing.

Raikkonen shone in his rookie F1 season with Sauber in 2001, fresh from winning the Formula Renault 2.0 UK championship

Raikkonen shone in his rookie F1 season with Sauber in 2001, fresh from winning the Formula Renault 2.0 UK championship

Photo by: Motorsport Images

"I don’t think Max Verstappen would have been eligible for a superlicence, I don’t think Kimi Raikkonen would have been eligible for a superlicence," said Brown.

Archive: How unflappable rookie Raikkonen took F1 by storm

"So, if you go back and look, there are a couple of guys, world champions, who wouldn’t have got their superlicence in today’s environment."

McLaren was willing to let Herta test with Alpine at the Hungaroring to further build up experience, but it is understood that run is also off now that an F1 seat won't materialise.

Herta could yet be in for a free practice drive at the coming F1 races as McLaren still needs to fulfil its obligations to put a rookie in the seat for two Friday FP1 sessions.

Oscar Piastri, who has been hired by McLaren for 2023, is still contracted to Alpine.

Therefore Herta and fellow IndyCar stars and McLaren F1 testers O'Ward and Alex Palou - who this week it was confirmed will remain at Chip Ganassi Racing next year - are the prime candidates to fill those two slots.

"I would not rule Colton out but anything we do is going to be in the best interest of McLaren as opposed to helping out AlphaTauri," Brown added.

"Who we put in depends on track knowledge. Obviously, Pato in Mexico is a scenario."

shares
comments

Related video

Wolff: No better solution than grid penalties for new F1 engines
Previous article

Wolff: No better solution than grid penalties for new F1 engines

Next article

How F1's greatest sound has returned to the track

How F1's greatest sound has returned to the track
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats Plus

How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats

The 2022 Formula 1 season will be remembered as a record book rewriting Max Verstappen masterclass, a completely different challenge to his maiden world championship last year, and a clear sign he is still raising his own level. But where does it stack up against the all-time great F1 campaigns?

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2022 Formula 1 season came to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit, where the battle for second in the standings was decided, the wins in a season record extended and a retiring four-time world champion bowed out on a high. Here's how we rated the drivers

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022
The factors that stopped Perez catching Leclerc in Verstappen's Abu Dhabi triumph Plus

The factors that stopped Perez catching Leclerc in Verstappen's Abu Dhabi triumph

Max Verstappen ended the 2022 Formula 1 season in fitting fashion with a dominant drive to victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But behind him, early season rival Charles Leclerc achieved his target of securing the runner-up spot with a well-executed a one-stop strategy to beat Sergio Perez, whose pursuit on a two-stop strategy was hampered by several critical factors

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022
Why the impact of FIA’s anti-bouncing metric is hard to judge Plus

Why the impact of FIA’s anti-bouncing metric is hard to judge

Faced with drivers complaining about the long-term health effects of car ‘bouncing’, the FIA stepped in to deal with it. JAKE BOXALL-LEGGE explains how the so-called ‘Aerodynamic Oscillation Metric’ works, and asks if it is fit for purpose?

Formula 1
Nov 20, 2022