Red Bull has shown an interest in signing Colton Herta amid the ongoing movement in the Formula 1 driver market, RACER understands.
Herta is currently an Andretti Autosport driver, but has an F1 testing deal with McLaren, and is considered a potential option to replace Daniel Ricciardo if the FIA Contract Recognition Board (CRB) rules in favor of Alpine when it meets to discuss Oscar Piastri’s future on Monday.
However, the likelihood is that any CRB decision will either see Piastri’s deal with McLaren validated, or lead to Zak Brown’s team paying compensation to Alpine. In either case, the expected outcome is a seat available alongside Esteban Ocon at Enstone.
Ricciardo has been linked with a return to his former team and could still land back with Alpine, but RACER understands there are reservations at senior board level about re-signing a driver that left for McLaren less than two years ago. In that case, there could be a need for a different option and Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer did not rule out interest in Pierre Gasly on Sunday in Belgium, which would open up a seat at AlphaTauri that would need filling.
Whether a Gasly-Alpine deal is realistic or not, Yuki Tsunoda’s future is uncertain and Red Bull is understood to have inquired about Herta’s availability with the potential for him to land at the junior team. The 22-year-old is understood to have an out clause in his Andretti contract if an F1 deal arises,
Despite that, an F1 race seat is still seen as unlikely for the Californian, as he does not currently hold a Super License and faces the same issue as Pato O’Ward when his Indy Lights results are counted, so he would be relying on an FIA exemption.
There remains a COVID-related clause that drivers can receive a Super License if the have “scored a minimum of 30 Super License points but judged at the sole determination of the FIA as unable to qualify…while participating in one or more of the (sanctioned) championships…due to circumstances outside their control or reasons of force majeure.”
Herta currently has 32 of the required 40 Super License points based on his previous three years in IndyCar and is unlikely to improve on that return, though he could add one point for any FP1 appearances in F1 — where he would need to complete 100km without penalty on each occasion — up to a maximum of 10 points.