McLaren CEO, Zak Brown, claims that the FIA's superlicence system needs to be reviewed as he believes that the system has prevented a seriously talented American driver from joining the Formula 1 grid.
After the recent contract fiasco between Alpine and McLaren in their battle to sign Oscar Piastri as their driver for 2023, Alpine were left with one of their seats still vacant. In an effort to fill that seat, Alpine started pursuing Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly.
Helmut Marko, Head of Red Bull's Driver Development Programme, said that they would only let Gasly leave if they had a suitable replacement lined up. This prompted Alpha Tauri into looking towards the 7-time IndyCar race winner, Colton Herta to join the Italian outfit for 2023. However, Herta didn't meet the requirements for an FIA superlicence, only obtaining 32 out of the 40 points needed.
Helmut Marko and Alpha Tauri asked the FIA, Formula 1's governing body, for an exemption and to grant the American driver a superlicence, despite not meeting its requirements. The FIA rejected this request, and subsequently, Colton Herta cannot race for Alpha Tauri in 2023, as planned.
This decision sparked backlash from Helmut Marko who was disappointed at the missed opportunity of getting a talented American driver into Formula 1. Zak Brown joined Marko in this opinion. Brown signed Colton Herta as a McLaren test driver earlier this year, with the IndyCar driver testing a previous McLaren car in July.
Zak Brown was prepared to let Colton Herta leave his McLaren role in order to join Alpha Tauri as he believes that he should never prevent a driver an opportunity to race full time.
Brown also stated: "I get that the rules are what the rules are and that rules shouldn’t be broken, but I question whether just because those are the rules that are in place now that those are the correct rules."
He also continued to point out that if the FIA superlicence points system was in place when both Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen were making their Formula 1 debuts, they wouldn't be able to compete, due to not having enough superlicence points.
However, this isn't the last time that we will hear of Colton Herta in Formula 1, as it is rumoured that McLaren may let Herta take over one of their two mandatory FP1 sessions where they need to let a rookie drive. Alongside the American, fellow IndyCar and McLaren Arrows driver, Pato O'Ward is also in the running for participating in one of those sessions.