Triumphant from an exceptional race held in Indianapolis on Saturday, Colton Herta, from the class of 2000 and the youngest IndyCar series winner ever, is preparing to make his debut in an F1 car for the first time.
The US driver in fact will take a test with McLaren team, driving their 2021 single-seater.
Herta talked about this new possibility and his inspirations in F1 in the latest episode of F1 Nation.
“It is a serious ambition of mine [F1]. There’s a lot of things that, you know, when I am done racing, I want to be able to say that I did. And Formula 1 is pretty high on the list for one of those things, right? I wanted to get to IndyCar, I wanted to get to the Indy 500, I still want to win the Indy 500 obviously, which I haven’t done yet.
“There’s a big list of different races, events, series that I want to be a part of, and Formula 1 is definitely higher up on the list than a lot of things.”
On the date on which the test will be held, the IndyCar driver prefers to not give a response yet: “I probably could [reveal the date] but I don’t know, I might get in trouble, so I’m not going to. But it is going to be later in the year.”
However, he still adds some more information about his upcoming projects with McLaren: “I can say I’m going in June to Woking for a seat fit and then some simulator stuff. So, I’m looking forward to that; last time I was there was in 2019… I think I did one day of sim. I didn’t really get to see the factory which I’m hoping I get a nice tour of.”
“I know they’re very secretive of everything, so hopefully I can see all the bits and bobs, but yes, that’s going to be the first step. And then obviously testing later in the year, which is going to be fantastic – I’m really looking forward to it.”
Herta then reflects on the importance that this opportunity represents for him and his future: “You know I want to be in F1 at some point in my career, and obviously time is essential to that, so it’s going to be very important to do a good job in the test and hopefully open some doors.
"As far as I’m concerned right now, I don’t have a race seat, I don’t have a contract for one, so anything can happen. I’m hoping that if this doesn’t lead to anything with McLaren, it gets people talking a little bit. Maybe it will open a door if I can go quick enough in the car.”
These tests are very important not only for young drivers looking forward to have a chance to make the big step in F1 but also for teams. As a matter of fact during the 2022 season, each team will have to field a rookie in two FP1 sessions, but the choice of the weekend will be up to the team.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, at the microphones of MotorLat and other media outlets, talked about how important and essential these tests are in the light of the new regulations: “We have to run two times this year through practices with a rookie and obviously you wanna, whoever then gets these drives, you wanna have these guys as prepared as possible."
“That’s why we have this program in place. That’s why we did the testing with Pato [O’Ward]. That’s why we do testing also now with Colton. Because in the end it’s happening during a race weekend, it’s happening with race components, it’s happening with a race car so you better be prepared.”
At the end, when asked if the team has already come to a decision about the weekend when the rookies will take the track for FP1 sessions, he added that it’s still uncertain: “It depends on how the season goes. Lots of different parameters that you have to consider when you make this decision.”