McLaren was left “quite impressed” with Colton Herta’s testing performance in its 2021 car at Portimao, according to team principal Andreas Seidl.
Herta was driving as part of McLaren’s “testing of a previous car” (TPC) program, that also includes Pato O’Ward and is set to also feature Alex Palou — if his contract dispute with Chip Ganassi Racing is resolved. Herta completed a total of 162 laps over the course of the two days, over 460 miles, and Seidl says the IndyCar driver’s fitness approach helped him get as much out of the seat time as possible.
“Of course when you do these two test days there’s different testing objectives,” Seidl said. “First and foremost giving Colton the chance to get used to the car, but then switching focus to working on different driving techniques.
“For example, getting used to the different operational aspects of a Formula 1 race weekend — like comparing different tire compounds, running at different fuel loads as well, qualifying runs, do race simulation like runs as well — and I have to say the team was quite impressed how Colton was dealing with all these challenges and his professional approach.
“What was great to see as well was his physical preparation was enabling him to really keep going throughout the two days, knowing how challenging this can be in a Formula 1 car on a track like Portimao.
“In the end, this approach together with the team allowed him to build up pace gradually, gain confidence and also find the right balance between taking risk and still keeping the car on track which is always important in a test like this. So, very happy with how the test went.”
With McLaren yet to decide who will drive for it during the mandatory FP1 rookie sessions, Seidl says the team will be trying to understand Herta’s performance by comparing McLaren’s race drivers pace at Portimao in the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix.
“It’s obviously very difficult to compare because conditions are completely different — you run different tires as well from Pirelli, but of course over the next days the team will go into the data in detail to get an initial idea of the potential Colton has shown in our car, and then we will have a better picture.
“That will also be part of our evaluation as well of what the next potential steps could look like. As you know we are obliged by the regulations that we have to run a Formula 1 rookie two times this year in an FP1 session. We plan to do that at the race weekends at some point after the summer break, so we still have time to decide when we actually do that and who we put in the car. That’s the process we are in over the next weeks.”