Herta signs new IndyCar contract with Andretti

American driving sensation Colton Herta has signed a multi-year deal to stay in the NTT IndyCar Series with... The post Herta signs new IndyCar contract with Andretti appeared first on F1i.com.

Herta signs new IndyCar contract with Andretti

American driving sensation Colton Herta has signed a multi-year deal to stay in the NTT IndyCar Series with Andretti Autosport until 2023.

The 21-year-old driver from California romped to his fourth win in the championship last month with victory in last month's Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, his first on a street circuit.

“Colton has already shown so much potential in the short time he’s been in the series," team boss Michael Andretti said.

"If the start to the 2021 season is any indication of the future success for the #26 car’s program, I think we have a lot to look forward to over the next few years.”

“I’m incredibly happy to be back with Andretti Autosport for the next two years,” Herta said. “I’ve grown so much with this team.

"It was a no-brainer when I got the chance to re-sign with Michael," he added. "There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be threats everywhere we go.”

Herta has been strongly tipped as the leading driver from the United States to make the leap from IndyCar to Formula 1, which is actively seeking to promote American drivers into the Grand Prix paddock.

And despite this weeks' announcement of a new contract, Herta is keeping the door slightly ajar in case one of the top F1 teams comes calling.

"If I would get the call to go to Haas or something, it would be something I’d be interested in," he said at St Pete. "But only if it was from a Ferrari-backed program."

If it happened, it would likely be with the full backing of his current team. Former F1 world champion Mario Andretti recently declared that he was "pushing like hell for Colton" to make the transition to F1.

© IndyCar Media

"He’s very quiet and unassuming. He’s not pushy, but I see a quality there," the racing icon declared. "A Formula 1 quality."

Mario's son and race team manager Michael has previously said that he wouldn't necessarily block the move if the right F1 came calling for Colton.

“From a selfish standpoint, I’m hoping he drives for me for many, many, many years,” he told RACER magazine. “But then again, I don’t want to stand in his way.

“If a team like Ferrari calls him, I’m not going to stand in his way on it," he said. "But if one of the teams in last or second to last position in the championship over there calls, then I might say, ‘Yeah, I’d want to keep you here.’"

American-based F1 team Haas has denied that it's taken any concrete steps toward signing an American driver for future seasons, despite strong encouragement from F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

Herta will start today's GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis from eighth on the grid, with former F1 driver Romain Grosjean on pole position.

It's only Grosjean's third outing with Dale Coyne Racing since leaving Haas F1 at the end of 2020, following a huge accident in Bahrain.

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Vergne: 'Vettel laughed in my face about Formula E!'

Two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne has revealed that Sebastian Vettel was less than impressed when he first... The post Vergne: 'Vettel laughed in my face about Formula E!' appeared first on F1i.com.

Vergne: 'Vettel laughed in my face about Formula E!'

Two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne has revealed that Sebastian Vettel was less than impressed when he first learned that the French driver was leaving F1 to compete in the all-electric world championship.

Vergne competed in three seasons of F1 with Toro Rosso, and was subsequently reserve driver at Ferrari the year that Sebastian Vettel made the move to Maranello in 2015.

“When I came to Formula E I also became a reserve driver for Ferrari so I was often with Vettel,” Vergne recalled in a conversation this week with the French edition of Motorsport.com

“He laughed a bit in my face," he continued. "He said, ‘What are those lawnmowers?’

"But then he soon started saying Formula E was also the future, that it was good, that F1 wasn’t doing enough on electric mobility, on zero carbon emissions, and that Formula 1 should do more like Formula E does.

"That the opinion of a four-time world champion has changed quite radically in a few years, and also shows how everyone’s point of view has changed."

Vergne himself admits to being unsure whether a full transition to electric engines is the right future for F1. And he admitted that he'd originally had doubts of his own when he made the jump.

"At the beginning it’s true that even I myself thought, ‘What am I going to do here?’ when I came to Formula E," he said. "Racing electric cars still seemed crazy to me.

© Twitter.com / @JeanEricVergne

"In the end, seven years later, here we are," he added. “We have an FIA World Championship. A lot of drivers who didn’t want to be in Formula E before are dreaming of being in it now."

It's not just Formula E's environmental credentials that are appealing to some of the best drivers around the world.

"It's one of the only championships where drivers get paid," Vergne stated. “Until proven otherwise I don’t think there are drivers who pay to drive in Formula E, which is not the case in Formula 1 for example.

"You have to earn a living and Formula E is currently one of the best categories to be a professional driver," he suggested. "The goal of every driver is to one day be a driver for a manufacturer.

"The business model is quite good, all the teams are fighting for podiums and points, which is not the case in other championships. The fact these teams can also pay the drivers shows it is a healthy championship."

Vergne added that he had a higher profile now as a former Formula E champion than he'd achieved as a driver for one of the teams lower down the grid in F1.

"When I was in F1 there were three or four French people in F1, and not everyone knew me," he recalled.

"Now, when I get into a taxi in France, we chat with the taxi driver, he asks me 'What do I do?' and I tell him I'm a Formula E driver, and everyone knows Formula E.

"Obviously that didn't happen before, not even three years ago. The guy is super happy to have a Formula E driver in his taxi!

"It's nice to see how people's minds change in motorsports - among drivers, and outside of the racing world in the normal world."

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