Driver tipped to replace Daniel Ricciardo set for McLaren F1 test

American driver Colton Herta will drive an F1 car for the first-time at Portimao on Wednesday.

It has been announced by the McLaren F1 Team that American Indycar driver Colton Herta will drive for the team in an upcoming test on Wednesday, taking place at the Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal.

Herta will drive the team’s 2021 car, having recently signed a deal with McLaren to be part of their TPC (testing of a previous car) programme.

It will be the 22-year-old’s first-ever time behind the wheel of a Formula 1 machine, with the talented American a hot prospect for the future.

“Colton [Herta] is a proven talent in IndyCar,” said McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.

“We will be interested to see how he adapts to a Formula 1 car.

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“We believe this testing programme will provide him with valuable experience while demonstrating the benefit of expanding previous car testing to showcase promising drivers for the future.”

Herta has taken IndyCar by storm since joining the championship at the 2018 season finale, having won seven-races since joining the elite American series.

He currently drives for Andretti Autosport, owned by Michael Andretti.

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The American was heavily linked with a move to F1 for this season, when it looked like Michael Andretti was going to buyout the Alfa Romeo F1 Team.

Now it looks likely that Herta’s switch to the pinnacle of motorsport will come in 2024, when Andretti Autosports joins the grid.

Incredibly, Herta got the chance to use an Alfa Romeo simulator whilst the talks were happening last year.

It’s reported that he was faster than the Swiss side’s 2021 line-up of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen.

Based on how well Herta’s test with McLaren goes, there is a chance that he’ll feature in an FP1 session for the team later in the year, as part of the new rule where each team must use a young driver for two FP1 sessions during the season.

Seidl told reporters that their two young driver FP1 slots will be decided by drivers performances in the TPC programme, meaning that Herta has every chance of featuring in a Grand Prix this season.

“We want to give him a chance to run a Formula 1 car and to show what he’s actually able to do in such a car,” Seidl said.

“We also have the possibility, now, to run a one-year-old car this year and that’s the objective of the test, first to see how he’s doing there.

“As you know, we have to do — two times this year — a free practice session with a young driver, and once we’ve tested all the candidates we want to give a chance in our TPC car, we will make our mind up who will actually run these free practice sessions,” Seidl concluded.