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F1 | Brown: McLaren is “very serious” about Colton Herta’s Portimão test

Team boss and CEO of McLaren Racing, Zak Brown stated that the team is “very serious” about IndyCar star Colton Herta testing its 2021 F1 car in Portimão last week. He also explained that the fact Herta is American would be a “bonus” but with no priority over outright performance.

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F1 | Brown: McLaren is “very serious” about Colton Herta’s Portimão test
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT

After a two-day test in McLaren’s 2021 F1 car around the Portimão circuit as part of their Testing of Previous Car programme (TPC), Zak Brown has confirmed that the team is seriously looking at the test and the performance of the young IndyCar talent in order to assess the possibility of him completing one of the two mandatory FP1 outings for F1 rookies in 2022.

With Formula 1’s recent surge of popularity in United States, and Herta being an American driver, it draws obvious questions of whether it would be a good commercial move for McLaren to get him in the car. But Brown played down this possibility, saying nationality is a “bonus” but has no priority over performance:

“We’re very serious about anyone we put in our Formula 1 car. The fact that he’s American is great, but we lead with performance.

“Nationality is on the list, but we would never select a driver for commercial reasons first. The first gate to get through is: do we think this driver is world champion, Grand Prix-winning capable? And if the answer to that is yes, then we continue to proceed.

“If they happen to be British, because we’re a British team, or American, because that’s an important market, or from Asia, because that’s an important market, it’s kind of a commercial bonus.”

Colton Herta’s previous experience racing in European junior categories and being Lando Norris’s team-mate was also a consideration point for McLaren when it decided to give him a run in the MCL35M, according to Brown:

“But first and foremost, we’re here to win races – that’s what our sponsor partners want. And yes, he’s been very impressive in IndyCar. He was Lando [Norris’s] team mate not long ago in Europe, so he has European racing background, so [our thinking is] let’s give him a go and see what he’s made of.”

Asked after the test, Herta said he thinks he is fast enough for a Formula 1 seat, and hopes to get more time in the driving seat of F1 machinery:

“You can’t say no that question, or else you wouldn’t be a professional driver! I do think I’m fast enough. Whether people agree or not, time will tell. Hopefully I get some more chances in the car and that can kind of show.”

McLaren’s TPC programme has already seen the likes of Patricio O’WardIndyCar race winner – and F2 driver Jehan Daruvala test their 2021 car.

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