Colton Hertha received full treatment of Formula 1 drivers last weekend at the Miami Grand Prix as a guest of the McLaren Racing team. From taking photos and commenting for her fashion ensemble as she walked into London (T-shirt, jeans and sneakers) to sitting in engineering meetings with her fellow drivers, the NTT IndyCar series star felt for the first time the F1 weekend running from start to finish.
The experience will only help him when he starts testing the 2021 McLaren MCL35-Mercedes later this year in a development and evaluation program designed by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown for his colleague from California.
– Colton Herta (@ColtonHerta) May 5, 2022
“It was a lot of fun, but it’s always the worst feeling in the world for a driver, isn’t it, to go on a race track and not be able to drive,” Herta told RACER. “Obviously, with connections to McLaren, I could see a lot more and I’ve never been in that capacity where I could really see everything and look at all the driver data, see clues and how they do things. So it was very interesting. I learned a lot. ”
In her four-car Andretti Autosport team, Herta is accustomed to talking to all drivers and engineers in a large set of minds and technical resources. Although cars, technologies and budgets vary widely, Herta has come to an interesting insight into the inner workings of McLaren’s racing team.
“It was a surprising thing; what they are doing is the same as us, ”he said. “There was nothing we would do that would be really different from the way we do things, except that they just have a lot more people because they have a lot more things to take care of, and we don’t. Their cars have so many different things to change, so many sensors and computers to look out for where most of those things are specified on our cars. But operationally, when the team got together after the session, it was surprising how similar it was.
“Everyone was very open to me and explained a lot of good things. It was great to see how everything works. ”
As Herta was busy with commitments at McLaren and various social functions related to his IndyCar sponsors at Honda No. 26, his team owner Michael Andretti was seen meeting with a number of F1 directors as part of efforts to lead Andretti Global to the 2024 paddock grand prix.
“I stayed with him at his Miami apartment, and then when we got to the track, apparently Gainbridge was there in pretty large numbers and had an apartment there,” Herta explained. “So I jumped off the fence to go upstairs and hang out with everyone. In fact, I have to catch up with a lot of people. On the driver’s side, I met Daniel Ricciard; really open, dear guy. Obviously I need to talk to Land [Norris] quite a lot. I haven’t seen him in a long time. I need to talk to [Aston Martin team principal] Mike Krack whom I know from our time in a BMW, so it was nice to see him. I need to talk to [Sebastian] Vettel, whom I know through the race of champions. It’s nice to see everything.
“[Gainbridge CEO and Andretti Global backer] Day [Towriss] he was there, a lot of great strikers from the Guggenheim group, so it was really cool to meet them and obviously Michael and I were up there. I think this was a successful weekend for both of us. “