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Colton Herta Becomes Youngest Ever IndyCar Race Winner

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Mario Andretti "not going to stand in his way" if Formula 1 calls on young driver

Colton Herta stands on his #26 Andretti Autosport Honda and celebrates becoming the youngest IndyCar race winner
Photo: Honda

With a stunning drive at the 2021 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Colton Herta, age 21, became the youngest IndyCar race winner in history. Racing for Andretti Autosport Honda, the star driver started from pole and led 97 of the 100 laps, a new race record.

With Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou cinching the season-opening race in Alabama a week earlier, Honda is already in a good position to defend its engine manufacturer championship, which it has won for the past three years.

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Herta had finished only 22nd at that particular race after getting collected in a major first-lap, multi-car accident. However, thanks to his win in St. Petersburg, Herta is comfortably among the top four drivers in the current standings and is seen as a favorite for the season.

However, Herta’s sights are not set on IndyCar but rather on Formula 1. And Mario Andretti says he is “pushing like hell” to get the youngster in a top F1 team, believing that the time has never been better now that the global motorsport is set to race in Miami.

“Quite honestly, I think F1’s fanbase in America is somewhat understated, but it needs to be perked up — and the only thing it’s really missing is an American driver,” Andretti said. “I’m pushing like hell for Colton. You’ve got to remember, Colton went to race in England when he was 15 years old, all by himself. [Getting to F1 has] always been his objective but he’s very quiet and unassuming, he’s not pushy, but I see a quality there — a Formula 1 quality.”

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Colton Herta doing donuts in his race-winning #26 Andretti Autosport Honda
Photo: Honda

But Andretti believes Herta must be courted by the right F1 teams to make the switch. “We’d need the American driver with a top team, not in the back with no chance,” he explained. “If you could get an American driver in F1, producing results, you’d have America going crazy for F1.”

Andretti also criticized the current super license system, suggesting it doesn’t makes sense that someone like Nikita Mazepin should have an easier time than Herta getting eligibility to race in F1.

For his part, Herta is not against joining F1 in a less competitive team as long as he has a clear path upward. “I’m not going to go over there and sign a three-year deal just with Gene Haas,” he said, “But I’d sign a deal with Ferrari, and if they put me in a car like that, I would drive it and try to get up to a top team.”

For the time being, he hopes to get an invite to the Young Driver F1 test later this year.