Colton Herta believes he has plenty of time to win his maiden Indycar championship, despite going into the 2022 season as one of the hot favourites.
The Californian who was linked with a move to Formula 1 during the winter, had a mixed start to his 2021 campaign with a win in St Petersburg and a fifth in the second race at Texas, but in between those two top-five finishes, Herta had a pair of 22nd place finishes after picking up a couple of DNFs.
Following on from the Texas doubleheader, Herta struggled for results in the next eight races as he could only manage three top 10 finishes, with the inaugural Music City Grand Prix, in particular, being one of Herta's unluckiest races as he crashed out of second place whilst rapidly closing in on race winner Marcus Ericsson.
But Herta ended the season with a flourish after taking a pair of dominating wins at Laguna Seca and Long Beach, helping him secure 5th in the drivers' standings.
As he approaches his fourth full-time Indycar campaign, Herta says he doesn't feel any added pressure going into the season. However, he has admitted that he wants to win the championship sooner rather than later.
"No, because I'm 21, so I think I have plenty of time. But I do want to win it earlier rather than later. I don't feel the pressure from that aspect. I don't feel like I need to get it done this year. But that's not to say I don't want to get it done this year. That's kind of like my goal."
Herta has said that he needs to work on his oval pace which he feels that he has struggled with in the past. But, the 21-year old has said it's a good problem to have as he can give the team feedback on what needs improving with the car.
"Yes and no, because I think some of the ovals we've kind of come from that we're good at. Like Gateway, I think we're strong at. Iowa, I think I was good at. Without that mistake and kind of ruining the car for the second day, as well, in 2020, yeah, I think we would have been competitive there, as well. We qualified like fourth and fifth. I think Texas is one of the biggest ones for me that I kind of struggle a little bit. Even though I think we were running like fifth there when we had a fire last year."
"I really want to win a race on an oval. We've had so much speed on some different ovals at different times, but I've never been able to close out. I don't even think I've finished on the podium on an oval yet. We've been close, finished forth a few times, fifth a few times at some places, but that's something that I really want to kind of work on for 2022 is specifically Texas I feel like I've always kind of – 2019 I was fast there, but ever since then with the aeroscreen, we've just struggled there as a team. So working on that, and obviously focus on Iowa now. We have a test at Iowa later in the year, so that'll be interesting."
"It's getting to very small things that we need to get better at where I feel like when we qualify seventh, or we finish seventh, it's not good enough. It's a good problem to have, and when I say the car isn't good, it's not that it's not good, it's not the best, which is kind of the margin that we're working in now with a lot of the places we have really really good cars and a lot of the time we have the best cars."
With the departure of Ryan Hunter-Reay from the team, Herta had been tipped to take over as team leader at Andretti Autosport, but he has openly admitted that he doesn't feel ready to become a team leader just yet. Herta also praised Andretti teammate Alexander Rossi's ability to set up the car as well as his guidance on ovals.
"I don't really feel like myself as a team leader, but Alex definitely is the oldest and has spent the most time with the team. I guess he's not the oldest, but he's spent the most time with the team. So I think he owns the seniority rule. Maybe he's the team leader. But yeah, also, it's great to have him on the team because he helps me out a lot, especially on the ovals. We've seen how good he is at setting up his car and passing and stuff on the ovals, so I learn a lot from him on that front."