McLaren sign Herta in Formula 1 development role

Frank Parker
Colton Herta at Laguna Seca. California September 2021.

American driver and IndyCar star Colton Herta will join McLaren in a development role for the 2022 season.

The 21-year-old will link up with McLaren for the new season and get the opportunity to drive the MCL35M – the team’s 2021 car.

Should the American impress, that could lead to a nod for an FP1 outing. Teams are required to run a rookie driver in at least two FP1 sessions for 2022 as per new regulations.

A statement from McLaren said: “McLaren Racing confirmed today that current IndyCar driver Colton Herta from the USA will test for the McLaren F1 Team as part of its 2021 MCL35M car testing programme in 2022.

“Herta became the youngest ever winner in IndyCar history in 2019 when he took victory at the Circuit of The Americas. Since then, the 21-year-old American has secured six wins and seven pole positions in IndyCar.

“The opportunity for Herta comes with the new Formula 1 sporting regulations, which enable teams to now test one-year-old cars under the Testing of Previous Cars (TPC) provision.

“The McLaren F1 TPC programme provides an opportunity for the team to test potential drivers and evaluate young talent for the future.

“McLaren Racing will confirm further details of its TPC programme in due course.”

The son of former CART/IndyCar driver Bryan Herta became the youngest IndyCar winner as a teenager in 2019 and has impressed Zak Brown recently, with the McLaren CEO expressing an interest in the 21-year-old.

“Colton is very good, he’s been very impressive,” said Brown in St Petersburg, Florida last month.

Formula 1 will host two races in the US in Austin, at the Circuit of The Americas, and the new race in Miami. A third could be planned at Las Vegas in the future and the American market looks to be opening up.

An American driver is still absent from the sport despite popularity soaring in the States and the sport having a US-based team in Haas.

Andretti Global were on the precipice of purchasing Alfa Romeo last year and Herta was lined up for a potential F1 seat. However, the sale failed to go through, leading Andretti to look at their own entry into F1.

The entry application is still in the initial stages and will not come to fruition until 2024 at the earliest. As Herta is an Andretti driver in IndyCar, there could have been a route to F1 through that entry.

 

But that is still some two years away, and Herta will work his way towards the grid via McLaren for now.

McLaren also have fellow IndyCar star Pato O’Ward at their disposal. However, it is understood Herta’s signing is not as a replacement for O’Ward but rather an addition to the McLaren pool.

 

Herta was quicker than Raikkonen in Alfa sim

Mario Andretti claims that Colton Herta was quicker than Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa sim.