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Colton Herta - America's F1 Driver in Waiting

Could Colton make the cut in F1, and where? I have a look at his time in IndyCar so far.

Following the news F1 has finally got it’s wish for a Miami GP, it is clear that Formula 1 Management is pushing the American market harder ever before.

It is hugely unusual to see two Grand Prix’s hosted in the same country, so to have two in a country that is still learning Formula 1 is even more fascinating.

America already has two hugely successful and popular motorsport series’, NASCAR, based on stock cars and IndyCar a single seater alternative.

Other than the traditional home for America’s best talent, IndyCar has often seen big names enter the series once they have either finished or as they’re coming to the end of their F1 careers, with the likes of Nigel Mansell and Roberto Moreno making the switch in the past while Romain Grosjean has made his debut this year after leaving Haas.

However, recently we have also seen some fantastic home-grown American talents make it to the top of America’s premier series with younger drivers putting some of the more established names in their place.

In recent times Josef Newgarden has ruffled feathers, bursting onto the scene in 2012 for Sarah Fishman Hartman Racing before eventually moving to Team Penske where he has won two IndyCar titles.

He however, now has a new kid on the block to contest with, who has taken on Alex Rossi to be the top dog at Andretti Autosport, Colton Herta.

Colton is the son of former Team Green and Chip Ganassi driver Bryan and on Sunday in St Petersburg, Florida, Colton equalled his father’s win tally with four wins, the difference is Colton is just 21 years of age. His fourth win around the streets of St Pete was a statement, he controlled the race leading all but three laps on his way to victory, comfortably outpacing anyone who got near him, racing calmly through numerous caution periods and hard charging challengers like Newgarden.

It was a dominant display which continues Colton’s growth in a series he has already had huge success in.

Prior to his first victory of 2021, Colton became the youngest ever IndyCar winner in 2019 during his rookie campaign at the age of 18 around the Circuit of America’s before finishing an amazing third in the standings last season only behind Newgarden and six-time champion Scott Dixon.

This season has seen Colton move in the #26 Andretti Autosport entry and has quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in 2021.

So why is Colton America’s F1 driver in waiting?

Well firstly he has age on his side, at only 21 he still has his best years ahead of him as he develops as both a driver and a person, which will only see him get faster and more refined.

As well as age he has marketability. With father Bryan being a big hit in America for his own exploits, Colton could take that to Formula 1 and bring his, as well as his fathers, fans with him, flying the flag for IndyCar and indeed America.

Colton’s potential move to F1 would be reminiscent with the likes of Nico Rosberg, Max Verstappen and Mick Schumacher who are all sons of drivers who have all made it to Formula 1.

Colton is a popular driver in his own right however, his silky-smooth driving style and chilled out approach to life makes him a good ambassador for American motorsport on a global stage.

The question is which team would take on such a driver and why would he go there?

The only option in my mind at the moment is Williams, but hear me out.

Williams has a history of employing successful CART/ IndyCar drivers, both Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya were signed by Frank, showing differing levels of success I’ll admit, however it was always refreshing to see top talent given the opportunities they deserve.

Although Frank and the Williams family have now left the team which bears their name, the history that Williams have could play a part. In addition to this the new consortium which owns Williams is American which could be a key factor.

As well as the American links, in Williams could be in need of a new driver in the coming years, with constant rumours circulating that George Russell is on his way to Mercedes replacing either Valtteri Bottas or Sir Lewis Hamilton. This would create the opening needed for a driver like a Colton, and with Williams seemingly on an upward trajectory and a new regulation change coming with the aim of closing the field up and letting drivers make the difference, it could, very possibly, all fall into place perfectly.

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