His lost F1 shot means the Super License system must change

Colton Herta never wanted to be the center of the motorsports world’s latest political firestorm. The 22-year-old American driver just wanted to pursue his Formula 1 dreams, having already spent two of his formative years in Europe, flaming out on the junior formula ladder. Six years later, having all but given up hope, his father and manager, Bryan Herta, had almost half of the F1 grid trying to get his cell phone number.

What changed? Colton Herta, arguably, projects no better a talent now than he did more than three years ago. Speaking strictly about black-and-white results, Herta just registered the worst full-time season of his IndyCar career (10th-place in points) with more finishes outside the top-10 than in it. And at 22, he’s reaching the older end of when F1 drivers tend to make their debut. In two or three short years, he’s said previously, he’d be seen as too old to be considered for a first shot.

What changed, you ask? One team – McLaren, in this case – took the opportunity to see what Herta could do in proper F1 machinery, instead of attempting to translate his results from an ultra-competitive IndyCar field. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown laughed at the idea he’d ever share Herta’s actual testing data from his July outing at Portimao with other F1 teams, but he’s since fielded enough calls from fellow team principals and expects enough mechanics to gossip to know word of Herta’s legitimately crisp F1 speed and handling would make its rounds.

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