Herta was being lined up by Red Bull to take a seat at AlphaTauri for 2023, with the squad open to an offer from Alpine to take currently contracted Pierre Gasly.
However, the energy drinks giant’s plans rested on Herta being granted the mandatory F1 super license that he needs to compete in grand prix racing.
F1’s regulations require him to have 40 superlicence points from other categories and, at the end of the 2022 campaign, he only had 32 under his belt.
But with his race-winning form in IndyCar, and success in other series which included being runner-up in the Indy Lights title chase in 2019, Red Bull felt he had the necessary skills and experience to race in F1.
One argument that he deserved dispensation was that his final season in Indy Lights would have given him the necessary points for the superlicence if the championship had had a bigger entry – something which was outside of Herta’s control.
However, amid some unease from F1 teams about the impact that Herta being granted an exemption would have on other junior categories, the matter became hugely political.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto had been outspoken at the Italian Grand Prix when he said: “I think force majeure cannot be used for Herta. That will be a completely wrong approach. Regulations are in place in order to protect our sport and make sure that we’re making the right process and choices for our sport itself.”
Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
Those comments prompted a response from the FIA about it not bowing to external pressures on any decision it might take.
“The FIA will not be pressured by any teams into decisions on matters such as superlicence points. The FIA President has implemented robust governance, and we will abide by that,” said a spokesperson.
Amid growing indications, however, that the FIA would reject the application, Red Bull elected itself to abandon the chase of Herta for now.
Herta will instead see out the final year of his contract at Andretti in IndyCar in 2023 before considering his next steps.
While Herta was aware that his F1 dream was over for now, the FIA has formally announced that the application for a superlicence exemption was rejected.
An FIA Spokesperson said: “The FIA confirms that an inquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA superlicence.
“The FIA continuously reviews its regulations and procedures, including with respect to superlicence eligibility, with the main factors being considered with respect to this topic being safety, experience and performance in the context of the pathway.”