Red Bull driver boss Dr Helmut Marko is courting IndyCar star Colton Herta for an AlphaTauri Formula 1 seat should Pierre Gasly leave.
The F1 driver silly season has been in overdrive since Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement at the end of July.
Fernando Alonso jumped ship from Alpine to Aston Martin to replace his old rival, with Alpine intending to promote its reserve driver Oscar Piastri.
However, the Australian 2021 Formula 2 champion publicly refused the seat, with the FIA's Contract Recognition Board now meeting to determine whether McLaren has a right to Piastri after contracts were signed.
Alpine now seems destined to losing Piastri, with Mick Schumacher and a return for Daniel Ricciardo - who Piastri will replace if he ends up at McLaren - both mooted.
During the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, it was confirmed that Alpine are interested in signing Gasly from AlphaTauri to partner Esteban Ocon - with Marko receptive to the idea.
To potentially replace Gasly should he leave, Marko has turned his head to America - given a comparative lack of ready-made talent in the European junior ranks.
Herta to AlphaTauri
It has been the long-standing ambition of F1 to get a full-time American driver on the grid - with Herta the most frequently linked.
The Andretti Autosport star is one of IndyCar's finest drivers - and has tested 2021-spec McLaren machinery this season and is in line for an FP1 session that the team is required to give a rookie driver.
However, Herta's hopes of a transition to F1 were harmed when Piastri all but confirmed he was McLaren's choice to replace Ricciardo.
He may be about to be handed a lifeline however, as per Racer, Marko has enquired about Herta's availability to fill a potential Gasly shaped hole.
A potential knock-on effect of Gasly to Alpine could be that it smoothes relations between McLaren and Alpine over the Piastri affair allowing all teams to get a driver they want in their car.
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Potential stumbling block for Herta
Despite Herta's long-held links to F1, he currently does not have enough superlicence points to qualify.
Drivers require 40 points over a three-year period to ensure they are eligible for F1 - although Herta only has 32.
However, there is a potential loophole in the regulations, with drivers who have scored over 30 points, such as Herta.
They can be handed a super licence if the FIA deems them "unable to qualify due to circumstances outside of their control or force majeure."
Alternatively, Herta could be given an exemption if Marko decides to plump for the Californian-native.
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