Otmar Szafnauer details talks with Colton Herta in attempt to release Pierre Gasly

Sam Cooper
Colton Herta waves to the crowd. IndyCar Laguna Seca September 2022.

IndyCar driver Colton Herta waves to the crowd on the drivers' parade. Laguna Seca September 2022.

Despite not trying to sign him for his team, Otmar Szafnauer revealed he spoke with Colton Herta over his proposed Formula 1 move.

The lack of the necessary superlicence points was all that separated Herta and a spot on the Formula 1 grid as the American became the final domino in a very long line to fall.

Sebastian Vettel to Fernando Alonso to Oscar Piastri resulted in Alpine without a driver, but identified the AlphaTauri Frenchman as their ideal choice.

But signing Gasly was not an easy feat with the 26-year-old having put pen to paper on a one year extension with his current outfit earlier in the year.

For Gasly to be released, Red Bull wanted a replacement signed and sought the services of the highly rated Herta. But his record in IndyCar was ultimately not enough with the FIA refusing to budge so Nyck de Vries was eventually brought in, allowing Gasly to move to Alpine.

Alpine boss Szafnauer first had to get permission from AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost but when that came back as a no, the Romanian-American asked another man involved in Red Bull’s affairs.

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“I called Franz [Tost] to say can you release him? And Franz said no. And so I said, ‘well, great. I’m glad you said that’,” Szafnauer said according to Motorsport.com.

“Because the last thing I wanted to hear was, yeah, I can’t wait to get rid of this guy! He said, no, I need him, he’s a great driver. I don’t want to lose him.

“I said ‘thank you, with all due respect, do you mind if I call Helmut [Marko]? He might have a different perspective’.

In an effort to make the move come off, Alpine boss Szafnauer revealed he even spoke with Herta and his father in order to get the wheels moving.

“I called Helmut. But at the same time, when I got to certain milestones, I would call [Alpine CEO] Laurent [Rossi] and say, look, this is what I’ve done. This is how far I’ve gotten. I now have to go to America and talk to Bryan Herta about a release [for Colton Herta].

“And I did that bit of it too. I went and had lunch with Bryan and Colton. Because the release was conditional upon Red Bull finding a replacement that they were happy with. Otherwise they wouldn’t have released him.”

Herta may have missed out but it seems his future will be in Formula 1 with his current IndyCar team, Andretti, suggesting he is their first choice should they be successful in their bid to get on the F1 grid.