No further McLaren tests for Colton Herta but Alpine could step up
McLaren have no plans to give Colton Herta another F1 outing, but reports claim Alpine could even though the American is linked to AlphaTauri.
Never let it be said this year’s silly season is boring, Sebastian Vettel’s retirement setting into motion several headline-grabbing moves.
Fernando Alonso is off to Aston Martin, Daniel Ricciardo is leaving McLaren, Oscar Piastri is joining McLaren, and Formula 1 may have an American driver on the grid next season depending on if Herta can get an exemption as he’s short on superlicence points.
The 22-year-old IndyCar driver has been linked to AlphaTauri, a move that would allow Pierre Gasly to join Alpine – and yet it is the latter who are reportedly giving the American an F1 test.
According to Motorsport.com, ‘sources have revealed that with the IndyCar season now finished, plans are being made for Herta to conduct a private test for Alpine in an old car.
‘This running forms part of the original driver development programme that had originally been set up for Oscar Piastri.’
Although nothing has been set in stone, the report adds Alpine are hoping to put him in the car in a private test at the Hungaroring before the F1 circus heads to Singapore.
It seems a strange move given that AlphaTauri have already called dibs on the American driver, the team making it clear they won’t release Gasly to Alpine unless they are clear to sign Herta.
Should Herta test for Alpine it would be his second F1 outing, the driver having already put in the laps during a two-day test in the 2021 McLaren MCL35M at Portimao back in July.
As McLaren CEO Zak Brown put it when he was asked if he’d give Herta another run in a McLaren F1 car, “anything we do is going to be in the best interest of McLaren as opposed to helping out AlphaTauri.”
He did, however, say he wouldn’t rule it out completely.
But what Brown would rather do is give 2023 McLaren driver Piastri some track time, but that depends on whether Alpine will release him early from his contract.
“We don’t have total clarity yet because Oscar’s still under contract for ’22,” he said.
“We’re still developing the car so we’re unlikely to want to put a rookie in when we’re still throwing bits on the car.
“Being the later half of the year, there’s only six races left. But undecided whether it’s one driver, two drivers. I think we’ll know that in a couple of weeks.”
Alpine did state after F1’s Contract Recognition Board ruled only McLaren had a valid contract with the Australian driver for 2023 that they’d make a quick call on whether to keep him as their reserve driver for the final races of the season.
That call, though, has yet to be made.