This coming Formula One weekend brings with it the US Grand Prix. Around this time, speculation is always rife about who will be the next American driver to be in F1 since Alexander Rossi in 2015. However, this year is different due to all the hype surrounding Andretti Autosport supposedly planning to have a majority stake in Sauber, which runs F1’s Alfa Romeo-branded team. As such, should this come to pass the name on everyone’s lips seems to be that of Colton Herta, the American racer currently competing in IndyCar with Andretti Autosports. Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, believes should this come to fruition, Herta “has everything to be successful” in Formula One.
The problem with speculation and rumour is that it changes from one minute to the next. Motorsport journalist Jenny Fryer tweeted:
“Multiple people have told me over several days that Andretti has tried to get a car for @coltonherta to run in first practice at COTA on Friday. As of the typing of this tweet, no deal has been done and Andretti camp has declined to comment.”
Unsurprisingly this resulted in netizens voicing their approval on such a move and ticket goers excited for a surprise treat during FP1. However, this was then later followed up by Fryer 12 minutes later with:
“Every indication has been that Michael Andretti would be at COTA with Herta on Thursday and Friday. Now there are reports that Michael was at Sauber HQ in Switzerland yesterday (@ahorn25), and there's no longer confirmation anyone from Andretti will be at COTA.”
Nevertheless, even if there is nothing Andretti based this coming weekend, the noise around Colton Herta is getting louder.
Pato O’Ward races for McLaren’s IndyCar racing outfit, Arrow McLaren SP. During an interview held at the McLaren Technology Center, O’Ward spoke to motorsport.com about the rumours surrounding his fellow IndyCar driver Colton Herta.
Pato O'Ward is well placed to comment on this matter. The Mexican driver was teammates with Colton Herta at Andretti in the Indy Lights Championship in 2018. A title which Pato O’Ward claimed over the American with Herta finishing as runner-up.
"He's a very talented, very fast individual, and I think he'll have no problem…Obviously it's not like he's going to go in and just shatter everyone. But I think he as a driver has everything to be successful. And I think he will be.” O’Ward explained.
However, in modern Formula One, being a great driver is not enough as you need to have the whole package. An idea which O’Ward also recognizes and as such he says it may take time for Herta to get up to speed.
"Maybe not from the first race. But the guy will get in sync with it. He's going to be fighting up there, if he is given the right car. There's no doubt in my mind. Not that it's going to be a struggle, but everything has its path of learning. But given the right time, he'll be just fine."
Formula One’s presence in the United States is increasing since the 2022 F1 calendar features a trip to Miami as well as Austin. Therefore, now more than ever, the time is right for America to have a driver back on the F1 grid.
Pato O’Ward races for McLaren’s IndyCar racing outfit but if Colton Herta made his way to the F1 grid, it would see a reunion with McLaren’s F1 driver Lando Norris.
The rivalry between Colton Herta and Lando Norris began in British Formula 4 in 2015. During this time, Herta and Norris both drove for Carlin. In a closely contested season, Lando Norris claimed the title ahead of third place finisher Herta.
Lando Norris has previously revealed that Herta’s nickname was “Hooligan Herta” so one can only imagine what may be instore in the future with such a character potentially joining the F1 ranks. Impressively, both Herta and Norris made it to the top of their respective sports as teenagers. Now, the prospect of their twenties being filled with on track battles alongside one another in the pinnacle of motorsport is very tantalizing.
Overall, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain for Colton Herta. Obviously, the first thing he needs to gain is a superlicence to drive in F1. However, due to the advertising revenue that would come from an American racer back in F1 - I am sure this would not prove too hard.
If the move (unexpectedly) does not prove to be a success he can just return to the Andretti Autosport family in IndyCar. Therefore, it seems to be a matter of when not if in the conversation of Colton Herta being in an F1 car one day…just maybe not this Friday.