McLaren's Zak Brown: Having an American driver in F1 'not a necessity'

McLaren Racing Chief Executive believes that Formula One will continue to grow even without an American driver. Clive Mason/Getty Images

McLaren Racing Chief Executive Zak Brown told Reuters on Friday that Formula One does not need an American driver to boost the rapid growth of the sport in the United States.

Brown's comments follow the decision by Formula One's governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) not to relax its super-licence rules so that American IndyCar driver Colton Herta could race for Red Bull's AlphaTauri team next year.

"I think the sport is going to continue to grow in America with or without an American driver," Brown said. "I think an American driver in the sport will be additive, but I don't think it's a necessity."

The US. is a growing market for F1 both in terms of viewership and money brought in by big corporate sponsors. Its commercial rights are owned by U.S.-based Liberty Media.

The sport, which will have three U.S. races next year, including a new night-time grand prix in Las Vegas, last had a U.S. driver in 2015, with Alexander Rossi.

Herta, who has previously tested in McLaren's 2021 F1 car, lacked the necessary points for a super-licence needed to enter F1.

"I respect that the rules are the rules, so I don't think we should be in the business of making exceptions," Brown said.

However, Brown added that a revision of the rules may be necessary in the future to grant successful IndyCar drivers an easier path into F1.

He said: "When you have someone like Herta who is clearly capable of being a Formula One driver, who has been in our Formula One car, who has won lots of races in IndyCar and he doesn't qualify, you have to look at the rules and question whether the rules should be reviewed again, and I think they should."