Mario Andretti has told MotorLAT that Colton Herta’s performance at a recent test in Portimao was “pretty darn good”. The Californian native got his first taste of F1 machinery last month as he drove the MCL35M at the Portuguese venue. It was part of McLaren's TPC programme.
It’s no secret that the 22-year-old wants to be on the F1 grid, whether that’s with Andretti in 2024 or another team at some point.
Herta currently drives for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar. He’s the youngest-ever winner of an IndyCar race.
“Just recently the test that he had in Portugal with McLaren, I know a little bit more about it than what has been revealed – and it’s pretty darn good. As far as his Formula One ambitions, he will do well there. His future is bright, no question."
Herta’s sensational raw speed – combined with the mistakes in his IndyCar career to date – draws parallels to Max Verstappen’s early days at Red Bull.
While surprised at some of the incidents he’s had, Andretti says raw speed is the most important thing as errors can be ironed out.
“I am actually surprised at some of the so-called mistakes. At the same time – not to overlook the facts – he has what it takes,” said Andretti.
“Trust me, a mistake is something that grinds you forever; I’ve done plenty of those. I didn’t need to be told that I was stupid that particular time; I knew that myself. He does the same; we all do the same. That’s not a thing that would worry me.
“You cannot teach anyone to go fast, but you can slow them down just a bit as they progress and get some more experience.
“The mistakes, you can overcome all that. I am sure he is harder on himself than anyone else.
“He’s capable, he’s fast. He has good judgement; we’ve seen that he possesses it.
“All of the ingredients are in place. There is not a worry about his capabilities as far as I’m concerned.”