Colton Herta, one of IndyCar’s rising talents, is going to spend the next couple days testing a 2021-spec McLaren at Portimao.
Herta has recently spent time in McLaren’s simulator and has had a seat fit completed, and it has now been confirmed that the plan is to get behind the wheel for the first time on Monday and Tuesday.
“We wanted to give him a chance to run a Formula 1 car, to show what he is actually able to do, in such a car,” said McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.
“That’s the objective of the test, to see how he’s doing there. As you know, we have to do two times this year a free practice session with a young driver and once we have tested all the candidates we want to give a chance in our TPC [Testing of Previous Cars] car we will make our mind up who will actually run these practice sessions.
“We have a three-day test. So then we will also run, most likely, one or two of our simulator drivers just to make sure they are having fresh impressions of running a car on-track as well.”
Whether or not Herta is given a free practice outing at a Grand Prix later this season, the test will give the talented driver a chance to feel out what the car is like to drive on a challenging track.
Herta has been heavily linked to Michael Andretti’s efforts to gain entry into Formula 1 as a new team, but that quest has been consistently delayed by rival teams that have a say in the new entry.
The 22-year-old still has a deal in place with McLaren to complete a couple tests, however, as he looks to keep his F1 options open while competing stateside for Andretti Autosport.
One of Herta’s rivals Pato O’Ward also got a chance to sample a McLaren F1 car last season following the final race in Aby Dhabi, and he described the experience as one of the best of his career.
The Mexican driver has also been linked to an F1 seat over the past couple years, and has the added advantage of driving for the Arrow McLaren SP team, which is now majority owned and run by McLaren Racing.
Herta will have a quick turnaround after his test, as the first running for next weekend’s IndyCar race in Toronto, Canada begins just a couple days after his scheduled running in Portugal.