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Colton Herta
MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: IndyCar driver Colton Herta of United States looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 05, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Colton Herta to run first test with McLaren in Portimao

The American driver is getting his first taste of F1 machinery.

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McLaren has announced that Colton Herta will be testing the MCL35M car this week at Portimao. Herta drives for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar, and is a part of McLaren’s development programme.

Herta getting ready to test the MCL35M (Image Credit: McLaren)
Herta’s testing deal

Earlier this year, the 22 year-old American star signed a deal with McLaren to be a part of their TPC (testing of a previous car) programme. 

This week, from Monday to Wednesday, he’ll have his first opportunity to do so, driving last year’s car around the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal.

“Colton is a proven talent in IndyCar,” said McLaren’s team principal Andreas Seidl. “ We will be interested to see how he adapts to a Formula 1 car.

“We believe this testing programme will provide him with valuable experience while demonstrating the benefit of expanding previous car testing to showcase promising drivers for the future.”

Herta has been connected with Formula 1 pretty closely throughout the past year, mostly through Andretti’s plans to join the grid in 2024. Andretti nearly closed a deal with Sauber to buy the team in 2021, but that deal fell through at the last minute.

During the time that those talks were taking place, Herta had a chance to test out Alfa Romeo’s simulator. He reportedly went faster than both Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi during that time.

future opportunities

Seidl has said that these tests will play a part in determining their plans for running young drivers in FP1 later this season. A new rule requires all teams to have young drivers take part in Free Practice sessions twice a season.

“We want to give him a chance to run a Formula 1 car and to show what he’s actually able to do in such a car,” Seidl said.

“We also have the possibility, now, to run a one-year-old car this year and that’s the objective of the test, first to see how he’s doing there.

“As you know, we have to do — two times this year — a free practice session with a young driver, and once we’ve tested all the candidates we want to give a chance in our TPC car, we will make our mind up who will actually run these free practice sessions.”

But a Free Practice session isn’t the only thing that is potentially on the table for Herta. Rumors of Daniel Ricciardo leaving McLaren at the end of 2022 have become fairly common.

There are plenty of drivers on the list of people who could replace Ricciardo. Herta could easily put his name at the top of this list should he impress the team at his testing session this week.

Feature Image Credit: Getty Images

  1. Firstly, Zak recently confirmed Ricciardo will definitely see out his contract & even if he got replaced anyway, Herta wouldn’t be an option if he finishes lowly in the IndyCar standings as he needs to finish in the top 5 to reach 40 SL points or slightly lower if he gains points separately via FP1 runs.

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