McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has reassured that Colton Herta being American by no means guarantees him a seat in Formula 1 in 2024.
Herta has joined other names such as fellow IndyCar driver Patricio O’Ward and Formula 2 driver Jehan Daruvala to test the McLaren in recent months, with the 22-year-old impressing in his recent outing in Portugal.
Daniel Ricciardo is out of contract at the end of 2023 and, unless his performances massively improve, it looks as though he will be leaving the team when his deal expires.
Herta, O’Ward and Daruvala are on the potential list of applicants along with O’Ward’s McLaren Arrow SP team-mate Felix Rosenqvist after the Swede signed an extension, as well as AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who is set to leave the Red Bull system after next year.
Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries stand a chance of being kept on by McLaren when the British side take over from the Formula E team, although Rosenqvist looks set to be placed in the all-electric series, while both current Mercedes EQ drivers have been linked with IndyCar moves.
The list of drivers that could be considered by McLaren is endless, but the only advantage one driver should hold over another is pure performance, and not nationality.
“We’re very serious about anyone we put in our Formula 1 car. The fact that he’s American is great, but we lead with performance,” Brown told the F1 Nation Podcast when discussing Herta’s test.
“Nationality is on the list, but we would never select a driver for commercial reasons first.”
The American went over what the team will be looking for when choosing who to place in the car in 2024 alongside Lando Norris.
“The first gate to get through is: do we think this driver is world champion, Grand Prix-winning capable? And if the answer to that is yes, then we continue to proceed,” added Brown.
“If they happen to be British, because we’re a British team, or American, because that’s an important market, or from Asia, because that’s an important market, it’s kind of a commercial bonus.
“But first and foremost, we’re here to win races – that’s what our sponsor partners want, and yes, he’s [Herta] been very impressive in IndyCar.
“He was Lando’s team mate not long ago in Europe, so he has European racing background so let’s give him a go and see what he’s made of.”
Herta has won seven races in IndyCar since his debut in 2018 in an IndyCar career that has seen him race for Harding and Andretti – the latter are hoping to secure a team entry into F1 in 2024.