Herta “most likely would do” F1 if opportunity arose
Had Andretti’s plan worked out, Herta would have moved to F1 once granted an FIA super license, replaced in Andretti Autosport’s IndyCar squad by its Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood. Instead, Herta has remained in the #26 car AA-Honda which he drove to three wins last season, and Kirkwood will spend his rookie season at AJ Foyt Racing.
Asked about such a move, 21-year-old Herta declared: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to do Formula 1, and I want to do a lot of stuff in my career.
“But it needs certain timing. Formula 1 is one of those things. If you’re 28, you’re not going to Formula 1, unfortunately. That’s just how it works. The time is right for me if I got the opportunity. I’d have to have a good think about it, but I most likely would do it because I want to run in Formula 1 at some point.”
He added, “I’m 21 years old and I can come back in five years and still run 15 years in IndyCar and be 40.
“Yeah, I definitely want to give it a crack if I get the opportunity. But definitely not disappointed at all in IndyCar. I like this series more than any series in the world, and I enjoy racing in it a lot. But yeah, there’s just a lot of stuff that I’d like to try in my racing career outside of IndyCar, also.”
Such eagerness for career diversity is something Herta has already demonstrated in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship outings. He was an endurance extra for Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW in the 2019 and ’20 seasons, winning the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on his debut, and last year he was in Turner Motorsport’s BMW M6.
This weekend he’ll compete in his fourth Rolex 24, but from the wheel of an LMP2 car, namely the DragonSpeed entry, sharing with Eric Lux, new Andretti Autosport teammate Devlin DeFrancesco and former Indy Lights teammate, current IndyCar ace and fellow potential F1 aspirant Pato O’Ward.
Looking at the IndyCar season ahead, not for the first time Herta said he was hungry for success on ovals, a track-type on which his best result so far was fourth place at Gateway in 2020. He looked destined for a win at that same track in 2021, but his car failed him.
“I think Gateway last year was our race to lose,” he said. “Unfortunately with the half-shaft breaking, it kind of took us out of it. Without that, I thought that we had really good pace. We were making better fuel mileage than anybody and pulling away. Yeah, it was our race to lose there, and unfortunately we did that.
“You know, it kind of showed the confidence that I gained on the ovals. I think for a long time that’s kind of where Andretti struggled with, short ovals. It’s good to see that the teams made big gains there, as well.
He later added: “We’ve had so much speed on some different ovals at different times, but I’ve never been able to close out… Texas I feel like I’ve always kind of… 2019 I was fast there, but ever since then with the aeroscreen, we’ve just struggled there as a team. So working on that, and obviously focus on Iowa now. We have a test at Iowa later in the year, so that’ll be interesting.”
On the subject of whether he feels pressure to win the title after finishing seventh, third and fifth in his first three IndyCar seasons, and racking up six wins over that time period, Herta said: “I’m 21, so I think I have plenty of time. But I do want to win it earlier rather than later. I don’t feel the pressure from that aspect. I don’t feel like I need to get it done this year.
“But that’s not to say I don’t want to get it done this year. That’s kind of like my goal.”