Colton Herta signs new long-term Andretti deal…but is not giving up on F1

Sam Cooper
Colton Herta IndyCar driver. October 2021

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport Honda waves after winning the 46th Annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach 2021 NTT Indy Car series. October 2021

Colton Herta has committed his racing future to Andretti and will compete for the team in the 2023 IndyCar season after signing a contract until 2027.

The 22-year-old American joined the team in 2020 following his rookie season with Harding Steinbrenner Racing (an Andretti satellite team) and has since gone on to finish third and fifth in the 2020 and 2021 championships.

Despite 2022 not following the same lines – he finished 10th in the standings – he has been rewarded with a new contract that will see him stay with the team until 2027 at the earliest.

The contract, which was signed in conjunction with primary sponsor Gainbridge, is thought to be the longest of any driver on the IndyCar grid and is only one year shorter than Max Verstappen’s lengthy contract with Red Bull.

Having come close to a seat in Formula 1 through a proposed move to AlphaTauri, from the outside the contract would suggest he is committed to racing in IndyCar – but the open-ended nature of the announcement left room for interpretation.

“We are really pleased to confirm Colton and Gainbridge will remain with Andretti Autosport for years to come,” said the team’s chairman and CEO, Michael Andretti.

“Colton is a true talent in a race car and has natural determination that makes him want to win. He’s a strong competitor and a good team-mate. I’m looking forward to seeing what Colton and Andretti can continue to achieve together.”

The statement also said “Herta has signed an extension to remain with Andretti Autosport through 2027” while not explicitly mentioning IndyCar other than the 2023 season.

Andretti have been trying to secure a place on the F1 grid but have so far seen their efforts rebuffed. Should they be successful, Herta may become one of their F1 drivers.

There still remains the issue of the Super Licence points, which saw his AlphaTauri chance taken away, but he could solve that problem with a solid 2023 season.

He is currently on 32 points so should he finish in the top three next year, he will have earned the 40 points required. Alternatively, he could finish as low as fifth and still earn enough provided he completes enough practice sessions for an F1 team.

Speaking following the announcement, Herta said he was never looking to move elsewhere and is happy with the Andretti set-up.

“I wasn’t really looking (to wait and test the market),” he said, as reported by IndyStar. “I wasn’t really thinking of leaving and it wasn’t really that hard a decision. I didn’t need to hear from anyone else. I just think I’m in a great position with everything.

“Having Gainbridge here, and having Honda in a good spot right now, and Michael (Andretti) has always been great to me. I have a lot of respect for him and honestly, I just love being at Andretti. It was kinda a no-brainer for me.”