Former World Champion Mario Andretti has backed rising IndyCar star Colton Herta’s ambition to get into F1.
Herta, a winner of three IndyCar races including the most recent one at Mid-Ohio, has said he would “love to give Formula 1 a crack”.
Andretti remains the most recent American driver to win an F1 race, the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort in the year he became World Champion.
His son Michael competed for McLaren in 1993 but suffered a difficult time and did not complete the season, while more recently Scott Speed and Alexander Rossi have represented United States drivers in F1.
Andretti snr believes it is high time another American driver made it onto the F1 grid and has singled out Herta as an ideal candidate.
“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” said 80-year-old Andretti in an interview with former NASCAR racer Kyle Petty on NBC Sports.
“As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained.
“He’s showed in his rookie (IndyCar) season and won some premium races at Circuit of the Americas and Laguna Seca, beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.
“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the US colours again.”
Asked if he can believe he remains the last American to win an F1 race, 42 years ago, Andretti replied: “Absolutely not. It’s a shame.
“Somehow we have so much talent here and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.
“Formula 1 is like the Olympics in a sense. You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem.
“That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country and the proudest moments are those.
“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”
Herta, 20, is certainly aiming high, having said: “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack. I think it would have to mean either being with a top-three team or incentives of, if I do good enough, getting to a top-three team.
“So being at Alfa Romeo or something like that for a year or two and if I do good enough, maybe I can move up to a Ferrari or a Red Bull.”