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Herta doesn't want to be "an exception" over F1 superlicence

Colton Herta says he didn’t want to get into Formula 1 by force majeure but by FIA offering greater points reward for IndyCar success.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Herta, who has scored seven wins in his first four seasons of IndyCar racing and finished third and fifth in the 2020 and '21 championships, has only 32 of the required 40 points to be granted a superlicence.

Thus he would have been relying on the FIA making him a special case in order to land a race sat in F1 for 2023.

"I can understand the FIA's position," Herta told Motorsport.com at the weekend. "I just feel that IndyCar is underrepresented in the superlicence points structure.

"But from their point of view, with the current points structure, I get it. And I don't want to come in as 'an exception'."

Asked if he had considered accumulating the requisite points by competing in Asian Regional Formula in this off-season and whether he had chased FP1 opportunities, Herta replied: "I think it was possible to do something like [Asian Regional Formula], but I feel like I shouldn't have to go race in a feeder series after I've been a professional driver for four years. So I didn't fully consider it.

"Zak Brown said he'd be interested to run me in FP1s but he wouldn't want to put me in a McLaren if I had a contract with AlphaTauri: it's kind of going against your team!

"I appreciate all the effort Zak has made for me – he's been great to me. There's been a lot of stuff in the news but he's been completely transparent to me all along, and it's been great to work with him."

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Assuming the superlicence rules don't shift, Herta is therefore going to need to reach the 40-point threshold via a combination of IndyCar achievement and some FP1 sessions with an F1 team, which are valued at one point apiece.

Given that an Andretti Autosport driver hasn't won the championship in 10 years, and that Herta and departing teammate Rossi were only 10th and ninth in the championship this year respectively, that would appear to be a tough ask for the 22-year-old from California.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

But Herta said he had faith that both he and his team can improve sufficiently to become title contenders.

"There are some things that we need to improve on, there's stuff that I need to improve on – I don't think I'm a complete championship driver, or at least I wasn't this year.

"But that's something we can work on in the off-season and I'm confident I have the speed to do it, and I'm confident that Andretti can produce the cars to do it.

"But it's hard to maximize every weekend and that's what you have to do, and it becomes difficult when you have these engine penalties, or maybe the set-up isn't perfect, maybe you're making some mistakes. You really need to stay on top of that stuff and maximize in every area.

"So when you are given a winning car, you need to grab that chance and win."

Herta said his F1 dream is far from over, and that he also believes team owner Michael Andretti's dream of moving to F1 is still alive.

Asked how long the second-gen Andretti might to get a commitment from Herta to sign a new IndyCar deal or chase an F1 opportunity, Herta suggested the pair might be entering the fray together.

"I think Michael's prepared to put me into F1, there is some longevity to that offer," said Herta. "I would understand if by the time I'm 26 he doesn't want to put me in an F1 car.

"But I guess there's a promise from this whole [Nyck] de Vries deal, right? He's 27, he'll be 28 by the start of next season, and it looks like what he did in Monza might have spiked some conversations about him getting a seat somewhere.

"Goes to show, if you get the opportunity, you need to maximize it and he did, so fair play to him.

"In the next few years there might be opportunities [for Andretti] to buy a team," said Herta, who saw his boss's attempts to start up an F1 team foiled by owners who didn't wish to see monies split 11 ways instead of 10.

"Somebody might be looking to sell. If another engine manufacturer comes in and a team owner has an opportunity to sell, they might look at it very differently.

"But regarding my future, at the end of the day it is the FIA's decision. They listen to the teams a lot but it's the FIA's call over superlicences. They don't want to piss off all their team owners and current manufacturers just to accept one more person. It's a big puzzle with a lot of moving parts."

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Herta said that if the F1 opportunity never does materialize and he instead spent the next two decades in IndyCar, he would be fine with that. But two class wins in the Rolex 24 Hours – GTLM with BMW, LMP2 with DragonSpeed – have whetted his appetite for that type of racing and suggested he would spread his net still wider.

"I would never feel disappointed that I spent my career in IndyCar," he reasoned. "But like I've always said, there's a lot of different things that I want to do in my racing career and not all of them are part of IndyCar.

"I enjoy doing all these endurance races, I'd love to have a shot at Le Mans, and I wouldn't be opposed to doing the Daytona 500 or a NASCAR race on a road course. To drive a whole variety of racecars would be awesome."

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