Rumor: McLaren to run Herta in couple of practice sessions in 2022 (Update)

This rumor is upgraded to ‘fact’ today….sort of.  It will be in last years car, not the current MCL36

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 program 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 the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

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 program 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 program in due course.

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren F1, said, “Colton is a proven talent in IndyCar and we will be interested to see how he adapts to a Formula 1 car. We believe this testing program will provide him with valuable experience while demonstrating the benefit of expanding previous car testing to showcase promising drivers for the future.”

Colton Herta, said, “I want to thank McLaren for the opportunity to get my first laps in a Formula 1 car, which has always been on my racing bucket list. This will be a great opportunity for me to gain some valuable experience in a new form of motorsport and learn from such an established team like McLaren F1.”

March 11, 2022 

With Michael Andretti’s bid to start an F1 team still awaiting approval from the FIA, it seems Michael Andretti’s close relationship with fellow American Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO, will see Colton Herta possible get a couple of FP1 Friday practice sessions at a couple of F1 races this year.

At the St Petersburg IndyCar opener late last month, Zak Brown told a small media roundtable including that “there could be one driver in this paddock” the team was considering for FP1 outings as part of a new rule that allows young drivers to do two sessions over the course of the year.

Zak Brown

Pushed on whether that would be Herta, Brown said: “Colton is very good. Very good. He’s been very impressive”.

Asked by The Race about Brown’s comments, whether his team was in contact with McLaren and whether he would be open to testing for that team, Herta said: “If the goal, which it seems to be, is really to have me in Formula 1 by 2024, if this F1 team actually happens, for sure I think they would be open to it, I would be open to as much testing as possible in a Formula 1 car.

“Although to the uneducated eye they look very similar, they are completely different machinery in the way that they drive is surely very, very different.

“Although I can’t really speak from experience, I haven’t driven one yet! For sure there is probably a big difference in driving and handling which you actually feel from the tire and the car.”

When asked whether he’d loan Herta to McLaren, Michael Andretti said “we’ll see”.

Zak Brown is an investor in Andretti Autosport, but he also has his IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward that is angling for F1 practice runs, so that will have to be a balancing act for sure.


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