Photo: Carlin Media

Colton Herta set for Indy Lights in Steinbrenner/Andretti linkup

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Talented 16-year-old teenager Colton Herta, son of Indianapolis 500-winning team owner Bryan Herta, will make his return Stateside in the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season.

The junior version of “Hertamania” has starred in Europe the last couple years with Carlin, and this year won four races in the EuroFormula Open championship. He has raced in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires before, competing in all but one weekend of the 2014 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season. He missed the St. Petersburg weekend that year as he wasn’t 14 yet.

Now set to become one of the youngest drivers in Indy Lights history, Herta’s confirmation at Andretti Autosport is brought together following a linkup between the Andrettis and the Steinbrenner family.

The No. 98 Dallara IL-15 Mazda entry will be branded as a joint Andretti Autosport/Steinbrenner Racing effort, run by George Michael Steinbrenner IV, Hank Steinbrenner’s son and a grandson of longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Sean Jones, the youngest Steinbrenner’s stepdad, is a business partner of Bryan Herta’s, notably on the Bryan Herta Rallysport Red Bull Global Rallycross program.

“The Andrettis want to be partners with Steinbrenners; the Steinbrenners want to be partners with the Andrettis,” Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Times, in a piece which was first to announce the news this morning. “It’s a natural match.”

Herta completes Andretti’s expansion to a four-car lineup for 2017, along with previously announced teammates Dalton Kellett (No. 28), Nico Jamin (No. 27) and Ryan Norman (No. 48).

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.