Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing Indy Lights driver Colton Herta has been chosen as a member of the prestigious BMW Junior Team for 2018. The race-winning son of Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Bryan Herta will spend the year testing a variety of cars – from open-wheelers in Formula E to M8 GTEs in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – while pursuing the Indy Lights title as his primary focus.
“Colton will be a test and reserve driver for BMW, and will train in many disciplines within the BMW Junior program,” BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt told RACER.
Herta trained on a Formula E simulator and then tested one of the all-electric cars on behalf of BMW, and will add more outings in other machinery throughout the season. For Marquardt, the BMW Junior system has become a great point of pride. Despite his intent to move up to IndyCar once he’s done with Indy Lights, Marquardt is confident that Herta will benefit from his time in the German brand’s young driver academy.
“We are often approached by very talented young drivers, and the relationship with a manufacturer is very important,” he said. “There is a lot available in the range here to develop yourself as a young driver: Formula E, DTM, sprint racing, endurance racing, and many things, and as a young driver, it’s a place where you can develop yourself. And we don’t want to stand in their way if they want to go to Formula 1 or IndyCar or wherever.
“You look at young guys like a Marco Wittmann, who ran Formula BMW and is now of our top drivers in DTM and our GT programs, and they are happy to be here instead of ringing doorbells to find fourth- or fifth-rate opportunities elsewhere. Jesse Krohn is another one who took this opportunity and moved up with BMW. And whatever Colton will choose to do, I know it will be a very good track for him.”