‘Elitist’ F1 slammed for snubbing American ace

IndyCar veteran Graham Rahal has hit out at Formula 1 for its “elitist” stance towards American drivers after efforts to secure Colton Herta’s license dispensation were abandoned.

The youngest IndyCar Series race winner has been the subject of intense speculation that he would land at Red Bull’s sister squad AlphaTauri.

However, the 22-year-old did not have the necessary points to acquire an FIA Super License needed to compete in Formula 1.

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Herta currently has 32 points but needs 40 to qualify.

The system, governed by the FIA, has received scrutiny of late with suggestions Herta is good enough to compete in Formula 1 and that his IndyCar results are underrepresented.

The Californian finished a career-best third in the 2020 IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport and has seven race wins.

On Friday, Red Bull conceded it had given up on chasing a dispensation for Herta, prompting a terse response from Rahal.

“Damn right. F1 is an elitist sport,” he wrote in response to a Tweet calling out the lack of interest in American drivers by Formula 1.

“They don’t want us. Remember that. They want US companies’ money, they want wealthy US individuals’ money.

“But they don’t care about the rest. Always has been that way, always will be.

“And for those who want to say that Colton Herta didn’t “earn” the right. You’re off base,” he added in another Tweet.

“He’s as talented if not more than the rest. He’s a proven winner. He came to the top, and has done exceptionally well.

“F1 has had ride buyers for years who don’t hold a candle to (Herta). FACTS!”

Red Bull advisor Helmet Marko told Motorsport-Total he was left bemused by the process, describing the decision not to award a dispensation as “incomprehensible.”

He argued Formula 1 should welcome an American driver, especially with a third grand prix set to take place in 2023 which takes part of the Las Vegas Strip.

Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, Formula 1 has raced annually at Circuit of the Americas in Texas since 2012.

The championship expanded its American footprint in 2022 with the Miami Grand Prix adjacent to Hard Rock Stadium.

“It’s a shame that people don’t realize what value an American driver, especially a guy like Colton Herta, would have for the booming American market, especially with three F1 races,” Marko said.

It means Herta will continue racing for Andretti Autosport in 2023 alongside Romain Grosjean, Kyle Kirkwood and Devlin DeFrancesco.

What it means for AlphaTauri remains unclear. The Faenza-based outfit has Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda on its books.

Gasly has been tipped to move to Alpine, although that was initially on the proviso that AlphaTauri signed Herta.

It’s not entirely out of the question that Gasly makes a move.

It has been reported Red Bull is not interested in promoting one of its junior drivers in Formula 2, including Liam Lawson, Jehan Daruvala, Ayumu Iwasa and Dennis Hauger.

Another option could be Nyck De Vries, who made his Formula 1 debut in place of Alex Albon after he fell sick with appendicitis at the Italian Grand Prix.

De Vries is thought to have met with Marko this week. It would be an incredible turnaround for the Formula 2 champion who looked unlikely to score a drive in 2023 until his points-paying debut.

In what is one of the silliest silly seasons in years, the Dutch driver has been linked to seats at AlphaTauri, Alpine and Williams.

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