1978 Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti believes it’s time the FIA looked more closely at the points weighting given to IndyCar.
The ongoing discussions regarding how the FIA weight the IndyCar championship for their F1 super licence requirements has resulted in Mario Andretti making the case for IndyCar to be given more prominence.
The attention on IndyCar’s low weighting, as explained in PlanetF1’s super licence guide, has come about as a result of IndyCar race winner Colton Herta missing out on a seat with AlphaTauri for 2023.
The Andretti Autosport racer was a certainty to join the Red Bull squad, if the FIA granted him a super licence, but the governing body have confirmed the American driver doesn’t have the required points needed – and no special dispensation is being granted.
Herta has conceded that F1 isn’t going to be happening at this point in his career, and told Autosport that he fully understands the decision made by F1’s governing body.
The seven-time IndyCar Grand Prix winner went on to say: “I just feel that IndyCar is underrepresented in the super licence points structure. But, from their point of view, with the current points structure, I get it. And I don’t want to come in as ‘an exception’.”
Currently, IndyCar’s points weighting is less than that of F1’s feeder series, Formula 2, despite being one of the world’s foremost single-seater categories.
Mario Andretti: The licence situation shouldn’t be so slanted
IndyCar has seen several recent F1 drivers, such as Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean, head Stateside after their F1 careers – with considerable success – while Fernando Alonso has also dabbled with appearances in the Indy 500.
But the reverse, IndyCar drivers heading to F1, doesn’t happen, and it’s a situation Andretti feels needs to be changed. The 1978 F1 World Champion was also a multiple winner of the IndyCar championship during his racing career.
“I think Colton’s situation – he expressed himself very clearly as to why he made the decisions he made,” Andretti told PlanetF1 in an exclusive interview.
“He doesn’t want to have any special treatment – he wants to go through the process, as it is, whatever it is.
“If [the processes] change, fine, but he said that clearly – I can’t make the comments any clearer than what he did.
“From where I’m coming from here, I feel that maybe they need to revise how much attention it could pay even to give IndyCar some ability to earn points for their super licence, just like you do in Formula 2, and Formula 3.
“I think IndyCar deserves that – there’s some young talents that would like to be able to, if they have the opportunity, move on to Formula 1. That’s healthy for the sport. Just not to have this licence situation being so slanted the other way.
“I can see the FIA protecting their own ladder system to the top but, at the same time, it’s a small world today. You can’t not consider IndyCar as a series, an open-wheel series, as far as being able to acquire super licence points.”
Mario Andretti believes F1 is still in Colton Herta’s future
While the door is currently closed to Herta arriving into F1, the attention on him means that, provided he keeps up strong momentum in IndyCar, he could still be an option for F1 teams after next season.
Certainly, Andretti believes Herta’s feelings towards F1 won’t have soured as a result of the stringent bureaucracy that has put the kybosh on a 2023 switch.
“It is [the case] momentarily but I’m sure that, sooner or later, he’d like to have the opportunity to do F1,” Andretti said.
“I think that was his objective at the beginning, when he went to Europe at a very young age. He’s a really great road racer, he really is, he’s a young man who has a lot to offer. I think his day will come for sure.
“Opinions fly a lot like ‘Americans can’t do that, they can’t drive’ – that’s unfair. But I think all has to be proven, that’s what you do. Ultimately, a lot of those opinions will change, I would say. Some of these naysayers, you have to prove them wrong – that’s all there is to it.”