Herta McLaren F1 testing could lead to practice outings

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Herta McLaren F1 testing could lead to practice outings

Formula 1

Herta McLaren F1 testing could lead to practice outings


Colton Herta’s testing schedule with McLaren makes him part of a selection process to see if he is the right fit for an FP1 outing later this season.

All teams must run a rookie driver – one that hasn’t started more than two grands prix – in free practice on two occasions this year as part of a new regulation. Williams was the first to confirm one of those with Nyck de Vries driving at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Herta is going to undergo a testing program with McLaren in a 2021 car after some simulator work in the factory, and team principal Andreas Seidl says the team is working out who should fulfill its quota.

“As you know, on the F1 side this year we’re obliged by the regulations to test young drivers two times in free practice,” Seidl said. “That’s why we have kind of a selection process in place about who we actually want to give the chance to be in the car for these two free practice sessions.

“In order to make this selection we have now for the first time this year the possibility to use the TPC (Testing of Previous Cars) car to give young guys a chance to show what they can do in our Formula 1 car. We invest some time as well in order to prepare them as well as possible for this testing and then we will make up our minds who in the end gets the free practice sessions.”

However, Seidl insists the likes of Herta or Pato O’Ward are not being lined up for a future race seat, with Daniel Ricciardo’s place with the team secure in his view.

“In parallel it’s also clearly independent of the nationalities – in terms of driver line-up, we have a driver line-up in place, we have contracts in place, we are very happy with the driver line-up we have and that is pretty much more just to fulfill the regulations this year.”

And Herta himself agrees that he will need to gain an understanding of how an F1 car works before he can even be considered for an outing during a race weekend, with his next step being some simulator work and a seat fit at McLaren following similar experience at Alfa Romeo last year.

“I need to understand the difference in driving style and what the tires need, not only just in getting one lap out of it but for the races it’s very different,” Herta told RACER. “Especially with the energy recovery system and how you deploy that and save that, how that affects engine braking and overall just feeling of the race car. It’ll be cool to see.

“The good thing is for the longest time F1 cars were so different to IndyCars as far as weight and so the feeling of the car would be very different, whereas now they’re very close. Even some of the IndyCars are lighter than some of the F1 cars once you get fuel and a driver in them.”