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Who is IndyCar racer Colton Herta and could he be the next American F1 star?

McLaren’s driver depth means that Colton Herta is just another young star waiting to see what his future holds.

McLaren’s driver depth means that Colton Herta is just another young star waiting to see what his future holds.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 28: NTT Indy Car driver Colton Herta (26) has his car worked on in the pits during Carb Day for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon SportswireGetty

Winning an IndyCar race aged just 18, becoming the first race-winner born this century, and then winning another six races, while still being half the age of title contenders like Scott Dixon, will certainly get you noticed. When you pair up that driving prowess with the charisma of a young American talent and the ever growing Formula 1 audience in the United States, you end up with just one question: will Colton Herta be the long-awaited American F1 star?

Who is Colton Herta?

Any open-wheel racing American fan knows who Colton Herta is, as his success and personality have made him one of the most recognizable figures in the sport, even if he is not really fighting for IndyCar championships yet. He is one of the biggest stars in IndyCar and races with Andretti Autosport, a major team who can provide him with the best resources to succeed in the championship, but there seems to be even more in store for Herta. A third and fifth place finishes in the IndyCar Series show his potential to conquer the title in the near future when everything breaks right for him, perhaps as soon as 2023, but who knows how many years he will stay in American racing before jumping to the global stage of F1.

Herta became the youngest IndyCar race winner in Austin during the 2019 season at age 18 and 359 days. That was just the beginning of a trajectory that has put him on F1′s radar at the young age of 22.

What does the future hold for Colton Herta?

Colton Herta is yet another McLaren signee, as Zak Brown’s team has perused the driving market intensely the last few years in the hopes of securing a good line-up both in F1 next to local talent Lando Norris and in every other racing category the team takes part of, such as Formula E from 2023 onwards. This modus operandi has made McLaren try to share its F1 testing time between a few drivers for whom driving an F1 car seems like finally realizing a dream.

As Herta himself said in a tweet, he considered this testing with McLaren just his “first taste” in a F1 car, which hints towards him getting more opportunities to show his speed with McLaren, probably as soon as during next preseason test sessions in March 2023. The second McLaren slot will be highly contested from the start, but all cards seem to point to Oscar Piastri taking the spot for the 2023 season and the foreseeable future.

The Formula 1 driver’s market is as unstable as any, as this last silly season showed us, so even if McLaren has a talented young line-up with Norris and Piastri things can change in the future. Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward are two of Colton Herta’s IndyCar foes, but they will also be his rivals in the fight for a spot in F1. If Norris keeps progressing and earns a chance with one of the current three top teams, McLaren may have to look at all the drivers it has invested time and resources in and see which one is the best, as Colton Herta hopes to be.


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