Team principals Guenther Steiner (Haas) and Frederic Vasseur (Alfa Romeo) have both stated they don’t think the FIA should grant a Super License exemption to IndyCar racer Colton Herta on the grounds of force majeure.
Herta is a target for Red Bull as a potential replacement for Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri, should the Frenchman be allowed to leave and join Alpine. However, the 22-year-old would be dependent on the FIA granting him an exemption based on the COVID-19 pandemic preventing him from scoring the required amount of Super License points, and without that Haas is not interested in Herta.
“He’s not on the list at the moment because he hasn’t got the Super License, that is the reason why,” Steiner said. “But I said I think we are looking more to somebody who has driven already in Formula 1. We have done the rookie bit last year and at the moment, we look more to somebody who has been already in F1 so maybe, therefore, he didn’t make the list and he hasn’t got the Super License.”
Vasseur, meanwhile, asserted that COVID can’t be used as a reason for an exemption for Herta because he continued racing in IndyCar.
“From my point of view, it has nothing to do with force majeure, because you have championships everywhere in the world that you were able to score points,” Vasseur said. “If the FIA want to stop the process of the points, and the Super License it’s another story. But they can do it and it’s up to them to decide if they want to stop the system and we can survive without the system, but nothing to do for me with force majeure.”
Steiner sympathized with Vasseur’s position, saying he doesn’t see how the COVID pandemic had an impact on Herta’s ability to score Super License points.
“I will speak more in general,” Steiner said. “I think we have got rules and regulations which we need to respect. If we don’t respect our own rules and try to find ways around (them), I don’t think that’s correct. I mean, we could then apply that to other things as well and I’m not speaking in general about rules.
“It’s like, we made them ourselves — if we signed on to them, there is a governance and we need to respect it. Force majeure, coming in or not, it’s a discussion point but as Fred said, I think COVID was everywhere. it didn’t stop any series to race. I’m one of those who says if you’ve got rules, if we don’t respect them and just try to find ways around that, why do we have rules? Then we need to change the rules and that is a different discussion.
“If you want to change the rule, let’s speak about it but, again, there’s a governance in place. You cannot change rules for tomorrow. It takes some time. So if we think it’s wrong… I mean, we had a very similar problem a few years ago, and we didn’t find rules around it, we just worked with that and we got the points, so that is I think what we have to do in cases like this.”
It was McLaren’s Andreas Seidl who supported an exemption based on what he’d seen from Herta in a McLaren test earlier this year. While they oppose that, both Steiner and Vasseur accepted the number of Super License points IndyCar is awarded could be reviewed.
“In terms of Super License, I think in general we believe in the system,” Seidl said. “We think it’s a good system in place but at the same time, we are absolutely up for some flexibility as well — also taking into account the situation in the last two years with COVID and everything, it had an impact as well on results drivers could score.
“Absolutely open for some flexibility there and handing a guy like Colton the Super License, because in the end, with what he has shown so far in his racing career, I have no doubt that he is absolutely able to compete in Formula 1.”