PORTLAND, Ore. – Colton Herta gets a buzz alert on his phone every time his name is tied to a Formula 1 seat next season with AlphaTauri.
The speculation is so widespread that Herta said on Friday he had stopped reading the reports. He also informed his father, who is acting as his agent, not to inform him of the talks and to leave him alone to complete the final two races of the IndyCar season.
“There’s nothing I want to talk about right now. I just want to focus on these last two weekends and have some time to decompress and understand what’s going on in the offseason,” Herta said. at the Associated Press. “I told my dad, he handles all my management stuff, I said, ‘I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to deal with it. I just want to finish the season.
“And then we’ll look at the options and see if I have any.”
The 22-year-old Californian is considered the best candidate to become the first American driver on the F1 grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015. Herta has a test contract with McLaren and took part in a two-day test for the team in Portimão in Portugal.
There is nothing else planned at the moment, and McLaren officially won the rights to F2 champion Oscar Piastri on Friday when the F1 contract review board decided the Australian driver was free to leave Alpine. Piastri will team up with Lando Norris for McLaren next season, which officially closed an option for Herta.
Herta has one year left on his IndyCar contract with Andretti Autosport, but team owner Michael Andretti has said he will not hold back his young driver from an F1 opportunity. Andretti is trying to land his own F1 team to be built around Herta and was close last year to a deal to acquire Alfa Romeo Racing.
When that deal fell apart, Andretti focused on asking F1 to extend its grid to two more Andretti Global entries for 22 cars from 11 teams. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says there have been many requests from interested parties wanting to join the grid.
Now comes speculation that both AlphaTauri could be up for sale, giving Andretti another chance to buy an existing team, and that Herta is looking for a seat. Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda currently drive for AlphaTauri, but Gasly’s name has been mentioned for several open seats in F1.
Herta, who has seven career IndyCar wins and heads into the second-to-last race of the season Sunday ranked 10th in the series standings, reiterated Friday that he is content to race in the United States. He also said he wouldn’t take a seat in F1 just to become an F1 driver.
“It depends on a lot of things. I want to be happy where I am, where I live, what team I’m with. I just need to be comfortable” , Herta told the AP. “There are a lot of different factors that go into the decision to change teams, and that’s nothing I’ve started to delve into yet.
“I wouldn’t go there to be there. I would need to figure out exactly what I was getting into, which I don’t know right now. So we have to wait and see what options really exist for me. “
Herta initially pursued European racing early in his career and moved to England on his own as a teenager. But when his opportunities dried up, he returned to the United States ahead of the 2017 Indy Lights season and won six races in two seasons.
That wasn’t enough to earn him the license points required to compete in F1. Although it was announced that the FIA could look into his work and offer Herta an exemption, he said on Friday he had no idea what that meant.
“There’s so much being said and speculated that I get the notifications on my phone all day. I make them all say ‘Read’ and I don’t even read the articles,” Herta said. “Honestly, everyone knows more than me at this point.”
Herta declined to speculate where it might drive in 2023.
“No, no. I mean, I have a contract with Andretti for next year and I don’t have anything else at the moment,” Herta said. “I think there are guys in this series, even if they were offered a seat in F1, they wouldn’t want it because they love racing IndyCar so much. No one should be ashamed of being a driver. IndyCar.”