The American has emerged as a candidate for an AlphaTauri seat should one become available if Pierre Gasly goes to Alpine.
Drivers need 40 points to get a superlicence based on their best three performances over the previous four seasons, with an extra year now included to cover the years affected by COVID-19.
Heading into 2023 Herta will only have 32 points based on his best three IndyCar championship results, and he can also gain points for any FP1 sessions he undertakes this year. However, he will still fall short of the required 40.
The FIA is currently considering how force majeure could be used to strengthen Herta’s case.
While the arrival of an American on the 2023 grid would potentially boost the sport as a whole, team bosses have questioned how Herta could qualify.
“From my point of view it has nothing to do with force majeure,” said Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur when asked about Herta’s claim to a licence.
“Because you had championships everywhere in the world that you were able to score points.
“Now, if the FIA want to stop the process of the points and the superlicence, that’s another story. They can do it, it’s up to them to decide if they want to stop the system. And we can survive without the system. But it’s nothing to do for me with force majeure.
“I think that we have a system that if we want to change or if someone has a proposal to change the point attribution, that we can discuss it.” Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images
Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda
Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images
Vasseur stressed that the system was in place to keep up standards on the F1 grid.
“You have to keep in mind that when we made the decision about the superlicence and the points, it was to protect F1 and the drivers, to avoid having 10 drivers coming in F1 with big budgets and no results in the past, and taking 50% of the grid.
“The reason of the decision was this one, we did it on purpose. And I think it was a good decision. Now it’s another question to see if we have to attribute different points to IndyCar or to F3 or F2.
“And I don’t want to make any comparison, also, because from year to year, it’s completely different.”
Vasseur acknowledged that Alfa has previously looked into Herta’s case: “We had discussions last year with Andretti. It’s not a secret. Herta was on the table, and he was not eligible for a superlicence at this stage.”
Haas team boss Gunther Steiner cautioned that the superlicence requirements should be respected like any other regulation.
“I would speak more in general,” he said. “I think we have got rules and regulations, which we need to respect. If we don’t respect our own rules and try to find ways around it, I don’t think that’s correct.
“I mean, we could then apply that to other things as well, but I’m not speaking about Colton, but in general about rules.
“We made them ourselves, we signed on to them, there is a governance, and we need to respect it. Force majeure coming in or not, it’s a discussion point. But as Fred said, I think COVID was everywhere. It didn’t stop any series to race.
“I’m one of them that says if you’ve got rules, if you don’t respect them, and just try to find ways around that why we have rules? Then we need to change the rules. And that is a different discussion. If you want to change the rules, let’s speak about it.
“Again there’s a governance in place, you cannot change the rules for tomorrow. It takes some time. So if you think it’s wrong I mean, we had a very similar problem a few years ago [with Nikita Mazepin], and we didn’t find the rules around it. We just worked with it and we made the points, so that is I think what you have to do in cases like this.” Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Steiner acknowledged that a top IndyCar driver should be qualified to race in F1, but stressed that the rules should still be followed.
“I mean, there are quite a few drivers there which has got a superlicence,” he said. “I think Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden. They have got a superlicence, and they did that within the rules.
“As I said, we can discuss it if we need to change it. I was not part of it when these rules were made. So I don’t know on what it was based or why it was picked, the points system what it is now.
“If you want to change the rule, let’s discuss it, and then fix it for the future, if you think it’s wrong. But there needs to be an agreement between the stakeholders in it.”
In contrast to his peers, Andreas Seidl, whose McLaren team recently gave Herta his first F1 test and is keen to see him get the AlphaTauri opportunity, believes that he should be given a helping hand by the FIA.
“I think in general we believe in the system, we think it’s a good system in place,” said the German. “But at the same time we are absolutely up for some flexibility as well.
“Also taking into account especially the situation in the last two years with COVID and everything, it had an impact as well on results drivers could score.
“And yeah, absolutely open for some flexibility there in handing a guy like Colton the superlicence, because at the end of it, what he has shown so far in his racing career, I have no doubt that he is absolutely able to compete in F1.”
Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.
The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.
Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.
The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.
Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.
The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.
But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.
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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club
MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.
Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.
“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”
It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.
Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.
The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”
“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”
The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.
“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”
He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.
“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”
The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.
“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.
Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.
“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”
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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.
Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.
Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.
The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.
The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.
Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.
“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”
Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.
The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.
Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”
Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.