Herta feels 'fast enough' for F1, wants 'more chances' after McLaren test

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IndyCar driver Colton Herta feels "fast enough" for Formula 1 after his first outing with McLaren at Portimao.

The American completed 162 laps across two days at the Portuguese circuit, driving last year's MCL35M alongside development driver Will Stevens.

And commenting after the test concluded on Tuesday, Herta was unsurprisingly in awe of the F1 machinery.

“It was a lot of fun, great two days getting acclimated to the car, which is obviously quite a bit different to what I’m used to driving,” he said.

“A little bit of a different driving style, but the engineers were very helpful getting me up to speed.

“And what a car. What a car to drive. It’s really special not only to have a first test in a Formula 1 car but in a race-winning Formula 1 car is even cooler.

“It was a great opportunity for me, I have to thank Mr [Andreas] Seidl [McLaren team boss] and Zak [Brown, McLaren CEO] and everybody for allowing me to borrow their car for the last two days.”

Asked how he approached the test, Herta admits his race driver instincts took over as he was keen to show McLaren what he could do.

“It’s hard to get in a race car and not drive it as fast as you possibly can,” he said.

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“So that was really the goal when I got over here, to get acclimated, get up to speed, and really see what I could do in the race car. It was a lot of fun.

“It was a car that was super special to drive, that handled beautifully. I was able to make some set-up adjustments in the afternoon and get it more to my liking and stuff.

“You always want to impress people with how fast you can drive a race car no matter what the circumstances are.”

So does the seven-time IndyCar winner feel he is capable of competing if he made a full-time switch to F1?

“You can’t say no to that question or else you wouldn’t be a professional driver,” Herta replied. “I do think I’m fast enough.

“Whether they agree or not, I guess time will tell. Hopefully, I can get some more chances in the car and kind of show.”


And Herta may get what he wants based on the reaction of team boss Andreas Seidl to the 22-year-old's performance.

“I have to say, the team was quite impressed with how Colton was dealing with all these challenges and with his professional approach," he said.

“And what was great to see as well, his physical preparation was enabling him to really keep going throughout the two days, knowing how challenging this can be in a Formula 1 car on a track like Portimao.

“In the end, his approach together with the team allowed him really to build up pace gradually, gain confidence and also finding always the right balance between taking risk and still keeping the car on the track, which is obviously important as well on a test like this.

“So very happy with how the test went.”

McLaren has now assessed Herta and fellow IndyCar driver Pato O'Ward, who drove at last year's Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi.

With the next step is likely to be one or even both of them completing an FP1 session at a race weekend this season.

“[Friday practice] is certainly something I’d be open to,” Herta said.

“As far as TPC test days, you can’t get better than that because you get the whole track to yourself, you get all this time inside the car that obviously in FP1 in 60mins you wouldn’t get.

“But it would be cool to have a taste of the 2022 cars and see how they compare with this car. So yeah, I’d be up for it.”