IndyCar driver and Santa Clarita native Colton Herta finished the 2020 IndyCar Series in third-place overall in the final standings.
Herta finished his 2020 campaign with one win, one other top-three finish, five other top-fives and four other top-tens.
Since his IndyCar debut in 2019 which saw Herta become the youngest driver to win an IndyCar race at 18 years old, the now 20-year-old is one of motorsports’ rising stars as he continues to show improvement.
His third-place finish in 2020 was a four-spot increase from his seventh-place finish in the 2019 final standings.
While Herta finished the season out of reach of a first- or second-place finish based on the scoring to that point, he had to fend off challenges from drivers Patricio O’Ward and Will Power to hold onto his position in third in the final weeks of the season.
His natural talent and potential for continued improvement has drawn Herta’s name into the rumor mill of racing’s highest class of driving, Formula 1.
As recently as September, Colton expressed his interest in a potential shot at Formula 1 in an interview with Racer Magazine.
“I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack,” said Herta. “I think it would have to mean either being with a top-three team or incentives of, if I do good enough, getting to a top-three team. So being at Alfa [Romeo], or something like that for a year or two, and if I do good enough, maybe I can move up to a Ferrari or a Red Bull.”
There are some hurdles to Herta potentially making the jump to Formula 1. Herta still has to qualify for an FIA Super License, which is required to compete in Formula 1, based on their point system which are awarded based on a racer’s final poll position across a variety of racing championships.
Americans haven’t participated largely, let alone fared well, in Formula 1 in recent history.
Scott Speed was the last American to run a full Formula 1 season in 2006 and Alexander Rossi made the most recent start by an American in 2015, but has shown no interest in returning since his successes in IndyCar.
The last American to win a Formula 1 race was Mario Andretti in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands, and he voiced his belief in Herta as the United States’ next best opportunity to have success in Formula 1 in an interview on the NBC Sports program Coffee with Kyle.
“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Andretti said. “Because as a young lad, he was 15 years old, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there for one thing. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season in IndyCar, he won some premium races in Texas at COTA and then the last race when he beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon. This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”
Were he to get the chance, Herta also believes he could be a boon for the sport in terms of viewership in the United States.
“I think you can see the TV numbers in the U.S. aren’t actually amazing for what you would think Formula 1 would get,” Herta said to Racer. “So I think if having that U.S. driver can push the market forward and drive the market, I think it’d be very beneficial for Formula 1. But I’m perfectly happy driving IndyCars for the rest of my career if that’s what happens, and doing endurance races with BMW or whoever it might be in the future in IMSA.”
While Herta obviously has big dreams and the ambition to give them a chance to come to fruition, he’s still remembering to enjoy the ride.
“I’d love to give it a shot; I think you’d be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Herta said to Racer. “But if I don’t, I think I’m going to be just fine and enjoy driving IndyCars just as much as I’d enjoy being in a Formula 1 paddock.”
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