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IndyCar winner Herta handed McLaren F1 test programme

Colton Herta will enjoy his first chance to sample a Formula 1 car this year with McLaren after the team announced he would complete a test programme.

Pole sitter Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Herta races for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar, and became the youngest winner in the series’ history back in 2019.

The American was in line to land an F1 drive at the Alfa Romeo team for 2022 if Andretti completed its plans to acquire a majority stake, only for plans to fall through at the 11th hour.

In a statement issued by McLaren on Saturday, it was confirmed that Herta will drive a 2021 McLaren MCL35M car at some point this year, as permitted by the FIA’s sporting regulations.

"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,” the statement reads.

“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.”

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Joe Skibinski

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown hinted last month that a current IndyCar driver was in line for some F1 testing this year. The team has already fielded Pato O’Ward, who races for the Arrow McLaren SP team in IndyCar, in the F1 young driver test in Abu Dhabi last year.

“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,” Herta said.

“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.”

“Colton is a proven talent in IndyCar and we will be interested to see how he adapts to a Formula 1 car,” added McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl.

“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.”

The deal also marks a continuation of the close relationship between McLaren and Andretti, which previously saw Fernando Alonso race for the latter at the Indianapolis 500 back in 2017.

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