Red Bull, Alpine not giving up on Herta saga

Red Bull and Alpine are not giving up on their plans surrounding Indycar star Colton Herta for the 2023 season.

Renault-owned Alpine has reached an agreement with Red Bull to see Pierre Gasly released from his deal at Alpha Tauri to be Esteban Ocon’s teammate next year.

American Herta, 22, has even secured a conditional release from his Indycar team, Andretti Autosport.

“Amazingly, all of the parties and teams involved found an agreement,” confirmed Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko.

However, the entire deal is contingent on American Herta, 22, being given the green light by the FIA to secure a mandatory F1 super license – but he has only 32 of the required 40 points.

“If it’s not Colton Herta, then I think Pierre Gasly will stay and nothing will change,” Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost said at Monza.

Rival F1 teams have already scuppered the idea of an unanimous vote for an exemption, so Red Bull and Alpine – even helped by McLaren – are moving onto ‘plan B’.

It is believed they are hoping a series of Formula 1 tests for Herta will convince the FIA that he has done enough to prove he is good enough for F1.

L’Equipe reports that, to facilitate the Herta-Gasly move, American Herta has been invited by Alpine to test a one-year-old car at the Hungaroring.

The French-owned team intends to announce the name of Fernando Alonso’s 2023 successor in time for the next grand prix in Singapore early next month.

Nyck de Vries will also be in action for Alpine, as will two other candidates for the 2023 race seat – Jack Doohan and Nico Hulkenberg, according to Auto Hebdo.

As for Herta, he is also slated to get behind the wheel of a McLaren in the coming days in Barcelona. The British team may be helping Red Bull as a thankyou for the energy drink company having released O’Ward from a contract.

Also on the cards may be a couple of Friday practice outings with McLaren for Herta this year, which would further bolster his argument for a super license.

“That’s a question for Zak (Brown),” Herta’s father Bryan Herta said.

“It’s not something that has been decided yet, as far as I know.”

Red Bull’s Marko said before the Italian GP that he hoped the Herta saga would be decided at Monza – but he is now targeting a new deadline.

“We don’t have an answer yet,” he said. “It will be the end of the month at the latest and we remain hopeful.”

Also in Barcelona for the McLaren test will be Alex Palou, who is locked in a legal dispute between the Woking based team and his current Indycar team Chip Ganassi.

It is unknown at present what Spaniard Palou, the 2021 Indycar champion, will be doing in 2023.

“You’ll know when I know,” he is quoted by Mundo Deportivo newspaper.

“I’d love to be able to tell you ‘I’m going to do this’, but I still don’t have an answer,” Palou added.

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