Former racing driver Mario Andretti has said it is “wrong” for Nikita Mazepin to be able to qualify for a Super Licence while IndyCar racer Colton Herta is unable to get one.
Mazepin’s fifth-place finish in the 2020 Formula 2 Championship, coupled with his finishing position in previous campaigns, was enough for him to qualify for a Super Licence and compete in F1 this year.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Herta, who races with Andretti Motorsport, has yet to qualify for a Super Licence – and Andretti has suggested the FIA Super Licence points system needs changing.
In an interview with the English edition of Motorsport.com, Andretti said he is “pushing like hell” to get Herta into Formula 1.
“Quite honestly, I think F1’s fanbase in America is somewhat understated, but it needs to be perked up – and the only thing it’s really missing is an American driver,” Andretti said.
“I’m pushing like hell for Colton. You’ve got to remember, Colton went to race in England when he was 15 years old, all by himself.
“That’s always been his objective [to get to F1] but he’s very quiet and unassuming, he’s not pushy, but I see a quality there – a Formula 1 quality.
“That’s from the word go – he’s a great qualifier, and that’s really important, from what I’ve seen the races he won at COTA and Laguna Seca, both races were won by raw speed.
“Not strategy, not fuel mileage, and he’s winning against the best IndyCar has to offer – Scott Dixon and Will Power – they were on him from the start, and he didn’t put a wheel wrong, all the pitstops were perfect.
“I’m really a fan of Colton, I’m in his pit during the races, and he’s just very calm and collected. I love that.
“He adapts to everything, that’s a big key to everything. You hear people complaining – ‘it’s too slippery, it’s too windy’ – he just gets on with it, it’s the same for everybody, just find a freakin’ way to do it! And that’s what he does every time. I like that.
“We’d need the American driver with a top team, not in the back with no chance. If you could get an American driver in F1, producing results, you’d have America going crazy for F1.
“Mercedes sells a lot of cars here, it’s a huge market, imagine what they could do with him? It would juice up the TV ratings too.
“But it has to happen within a year or so, or they’ll consider him to be too old.
“He’s 21, so it’s a great time, and I realise the lack of testing and licence restrictions.
“But, I mean, that Russian kid [Mazepin] gets a Super Licence, and the guy who’s at the very top level over here can’t get one? There’s something wrong there!” he concluded.