Colton Herta’s first Formula One race with the McLaren Racing team at the Portuguese circuit in Portimão left the IndyCar star with many positive impressions.
The American was able to drive two days behind the wheel of the MCL35M, last year’s McLaren Mercedes, with more than 80 laps done each day.
“It was a lot of fun. Two great days to acclimatize to the car, which is obviously a very different car to the one I’m used to driving.”
“A slightly different driving style, but the engineers have helped me a lot to increase the speed. And what more car to drive! It’s very special. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Although the two days of racing were meant to give Herta the opportunity to progress at her own pace, doing things slowly was not part of the Californian’s plans.
“It’s hard to get in a race car without driving as fast as you can. So that was really the goal when I got here was to acclimatize, pick up some speed and really see what I could do in an F1 car.” .
“It went really well. I was able to do some tweaking last afternoon and do it more to my liking. It was good to see what those cars were like and see the physics differences with an IndyCar.”
Comparing the MCL35M to its Dallara DW12-Honda, Herta liked the approximately 200 additional hp provided by the V6 hybrid turbo engine and all other performance areas of an F1.
“I think the first one was right after the pit lane speed limiter, it’s all the torque that’s pretty amazing. Even when you’re at such low revs. That was the most important thing to me, then speed in a straight line, acceleration and braking. “
“Obviously the cornering speeds were higher than you have in IndyCar, but that didn’t impact me as much as the acceleration and ease with all the aerodynamic force.”
“It’s a completely different feeling. Obviously, the feel of an Indy is very different due to the lack of power steering. So the overall rebound and smoothness of the steering wheel doesn’t really convey the violence of an F1.”
Herta says she learned a lot in her first outing in F1 and will have work to do in her next race at the end of the year.
“I felt comfortable right away. The most important thing was to do a quick lap. I felt like I had reached the limit by the middle of the day, but not only did separate bends come together. At the end of the second day, I having enough confidence to put the parts together, low fuel, high fuel and everything else. And it sure took a while. “
“We’re able to go through a lot of different things, a lot of different balance changes, mechanically, aerodynamically with the car. And then inside the same car with all the tools, all that stuff. So it was really fun to see it. ‘balance changes and what you’re doing inside your car behind the wheel, which is so much more than we are able to do at IndyCar’.
“It was great. If you have a problem in a corner, you can fix it with a turn of the dial. I felt very comfortable and I could feel the limit. Maybe I don’t have the consistency. It will come in a few days, but I to feel like I’m close to it. “
When asked if F1 was still his goal, Herta replied: “It was a good test to see what those cars are and see the differences with an Indycar. F1 is one of my goals, a long time ago, there were times when I was close to being there.”
“But there, McLaren was able to give me a chance and surely tasting a piece of the pie means it all now. A seat in F1 is what I dream of and even more so after those two days.”
“Luckily I’m young, I have time if the opportunity presents itself, but at the moment I’m not too worried about it. I’ll try to go as fast as I can and I hope to open doors at some point.”