The current controversy involving Colton Herta, his F1 debut, and the FIA Super License system is gaining headlines due to all the wrong reasons. Historically, a driver has to earn 40 points over 3 years on their Super License to be eligible to drive in the Formula One World Championship. The current Super License award system is heavily biased, since it only awards points in tournaments organized by the FIA. This essentially means that the talent has to grow only from FIA feeder series like F2 and F3 to become eligible to drive in F1. But this also means that a talent like Colton Herta has no chance of driving a Formula One car because he did not grow through the conventional FIA path. Additionally, there is always a hefty fee involved to get into Formula 2 and Formula 3 and one will always require sponsors. Due to all these reasons, real talent sometimes can’t really afford to be in the FIA system and chooses the path less taken.
Through multiple sources, it has been clear that Dr. Helmut Marko, head of Red Bull’s driver development program, regards Colton Herta very highly and wants him to drive for Red Bull’s sister team Alpha Tauri. Marko was the one who spotted current Formula One Champion Max Verstappen at a very young age, so Marko’s praise for Herta is not to be taken lightly. However, due to the super license system, Colton Herta is currently ineligible to drive in the F1.
It feels like the FIA is shooting itself in the foot. F1 has always struggled to get a foothold in the USA in terms of viewership, and a talent like Herta could help a great deal in that regard. But instead of seeing the upside, it seems that the FIA wants to line their pockets and force drivers to come up through their ranks, not through another series to be able to drive in the pinnacle of racing sports. This is equivalent to saying that only players who have played in the Minor League in baseball can play for the Major League. Imagine how many players would have missed the opportunity to showcase their talent to the world if this was true for baseball.
One can only hope the FIA sees the errors in its ways and reworks the Super License system. Herta has proven himself to be better than quite a few F1 drivers whom he regularly beats in Indycar every other weekend. Due to his winning record, he is already acclaimed in the US racing scene and has a huge fan following. Having him on the driver’s grid will surely make the new Miami F1 Grand Prix even more exciting next year.
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Q. Should FIA change its system?
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