Formula 1 is having a moment in America. Viewership has increased in the States, American fans are invested in the sport, F1 is responding with three American races in 2023, and there are several American drivers and teams who are all tantalizingly close to entering the sport, including Formula 2 driver Logan Sargeant, IndyCar driver Colton Herta, and motorsport team owner Michael Andretti. Today, we’re going to look at where each driver or team stands on the path to F1.
When you consider the traditional F1 ladder that sees Formula 3 lead to Formula 2 and finally into F1, Logan Sargeant is the closest American driver to F1. With multiple karting championships to his name, third-place finishes at Macau and in the Formula 3 Championship, and a current points total in F2 that sees him sitting in third with the possibility to move up to second place after a good weekend, Sargeant has proved to be a formidable competitor.
We have, unfortunately, seen these careers peter out just before or soon after they hit the F1 scene, with the most recent example being Alexander Rossi, who finished second in the 2015 GP2 Series before contesting a handful of F1 races with Manor Marussia. Rossi was not re-signed for the following season, seeing him head to IndyCar instead.
Will that happen to Sargeant? It could, but Sargeant has something Rossi never had: A seat at an F1 driver academy. Sargeant is currently signed up with the Williams team and will be making his F1 free practice 1 debut during the United States Grand Prix weekend this October, inching him ever closer to a coveted full-time F1 seat.
Sargeant also has more than enough points to secure a superlicense for 2023, which is something other American options are lacking. And with Nicholas Latifi likely out of the picture at Williams for 2023, Sargeant is a great choice if the team is aiming to pick a driver out its academy lineup. He’s proved he can be competitive anywhere he races, out-performing his teammates time and again.
Is Williams the ideal choice to display the talents of America’s next great hope? Considering the team is currently sitting 10th in the F1 Constructors Championship, probably not — but a foot in the door and the ability to establish yourself as a desirable driver can’t be overstated.
While Colton Herta has been rumored to be joining the Formula 1 grid for several years, his hopes have really started to coalesce this season, first with Andretti Autosport’s potential F1 team and now with AlphaTauri.
During the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Helmut Marko mentioned that Herta is in the picture to join the F1 grid should current driver Pierre Gasly be released by the team to race for Alpine in 2023. There is, however, one big problem: Herta doesn’t have enough points to earn a superlicense, which is required to compete in F1.
Motorsport.com, however, is reporting today that the FIA is “considering Herta’s credentials,” meaning that The Powers That Be could award Herta a superlicense based not on the current points-awarding system but by some other, currently unspecified metric.
That being said, Herta is fairly close to a superlicense. He currently possesses 32 points, with 40 being the mark to hit. He can also gain up to six points by entering F1 free practice 1 sessions for the remainder of the year (discounting, of course, the upcoming Dutch and Italian Grands Prix, which conflict with IndyCar).
However, the FIA doesn’t need hard numbers. From Motorsport.com:
Crucially however the FIA has given itself some wiggle room, as one clause of the ISC notes that a superlicense could still go to a driver who misses out on the other qualifications. That’s the case if they have “scored a minimum of 30 superlicense points but judged at the sole determination of the FIA as unable to qualify under any of the a) to c) above, while participating in one or more of the championships listed in Supplement 1, due to circumstances outside their control or reasons of force majeure.
Where does that come into play for Herta? Well, should he apply for a full-season superlicense, he could count the best three of his seasons of competition back to 2018 toward the total. The big problem, though, is that his second-place finish in Indy Lights that year currently doesn’t count, since there were fewer than 10 drivers competing that season.
That, though, was outside of Herta’s control. The FIA could theoretically allow those 12 points to be counted. He could then count 20 points for 2020 and eight for 2021, which would give him 40 points — enough for a superlicense.
Obviously, folks in the F1 paddock aren’t happy, with one source saying, “If [Herta] gets a license we might as well all stop investing F3 and F2.”
It’s totally possible that we could see Herta in Formula 1 next year — but it would require F1 and the FIA to be very motivated to sign him over all the possible candidates who currently hold a superlicense.
Michael Andretti has fielded successful teams in everything from IndyCar to Australian Supercars, but his next big goal is entering a competitive team in Formula 1, making that team one of two American teams on the grid. Andretti initially aimed to join the sport by 2024, but there has been significant pushback from current teams — mostly due to money.
See, any new team wanting to enter the F1 grid has to pay an “anti-dilution” fee of $200 million, which will be spread across all of the current 10 teams. This fee exists because, at the end of a race season, F1 pays teams from two distinct pools. One pool sees teams rewarded for their Constructor Championship finishing position. The second pool is split equally among all teams. The addition of an 11th team would ultimately dilute the payment pool, and the anti-dilution fee only really covers two years of that dilution.
Andretti’s argument that the addition of an American team — one tied to a name as storied as “Andretti” — would ultimately capitalize better on the booming American F1 fan market than existing teams, which would result in more profits for everyone, even with the addition of an extra team.
Existing teams have a reason to be skeptical, though. Haas F1 is also an American team, and with the exception of a few local activations during the U.S. Grand Prix race weekend and some of the more outstanding characters on Netflix docuseries Drive to Survive, the team hasn’t really brought a huge influx of fans or cash to F1. Now, if the team intends to join F1, it’ll likely be coming in at a later date — possibly coinciding with the introduction of new regulations in 2026.
A growing American presence in F1 is tantalizingly close. Here’s to hoping we see it increase in the near future.