Colton Herta to Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport in 2020

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MONTEREY, California – A major IndyCar team move that has been widely reported for the past month by NBCSports.com is finally “official.”

Colton Herta, 19, will become the fifth driver at Andretti Autosport in 2020, the team announced Saturday just before qualifying for the season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway.

The team will join forces with Harding Steinbrenner Racing in a partnership known as Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport with HSR team principals Mike Harding and George Michael Steinbrenner, IV joining Michael Andretti as partners in the team.

This year, Andretti Technologies served as the engineering partner to Harding Steinbrenner Racing with Harding and Steinbrenner in the leadership roles.

“I’m really excited about the announcement to bring our partnerships with Harding Steinbrenner closer together,” Andretti said Saturday. “This partnership and expansion of Andretti Autosport will bring about a positive direction and new opportunities for all involved.

“I’m also thrilled to be able to keep Colton in the Andretti family. We’ve watched him grow and develop, and we are excited to see the next chapter as he continues his charge in becoming a strong competitive force in the IndyCar Series.”

Herta will continue to drive the No. 88 Capstone Energy Honda but officially will become teammates with Andretti Autosport drivers Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Zach Veach and Marco Andretti.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to drive for Andretti Autosport ever since watching my dad drive for them in the mid-2000s,” Herta said. “I’m very thankful for the Steinbrenners and Mike Harding for their efforts through my career and continued efforts into this year. I’ve grown up around the Andretti team and many of the guys that have been working there since my dad’s days of driving are still with the team. I’m sure I’ll feel right at home.

“I can for sure tell you this is going to be the longest offseason I’ve had in a while, and I can’t wait to hop in my brand-new Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Indy car.”

Herta, who climbed the European racing ranks before joining Andretti Autosport for the 2017 and 2018 Indy Lights seasons, currently ranks third in the IndyCar Rookie of the Year standings with one win and five top-10 finishes.

George Michael Steinbrenner IV is the grandson of the late New York Yankees team owner George Steinbrenner and son of Yankees vice chairman Hank Steinbrenner.

“We are extremely excited to be continuing and expanding our partnership with Andretti Autosport,” Steinbrenner said. “Andretti has become like family to me and the team as we have shared a connection since the very beginning of Steinbrenner Racing. We see this as an opportunity to build upon a successful 2019 and create an environment of sustained competitiveness. We are thrilled we have been able to retain Colton’s services and look forward to a fruitful tenure together.”

Steinbrenner was asked by NBCSports.com if that meant the leadership of the No. 88 team would remain intact (including president Brian Barnhart). Steinbrenner said, “All leadership decisions for next year have yet to be determined.”

Next up for Andretti Autosport will be finalizing a satellite arrangement with Meyer Shank Racing in an engineering alliance similar to what Harding Steinbrenner had with Andretti in 2019.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”