Colton Herta says he’s tuning out reports about possibly joining AlphaTauri in F1

Colton Herta AlphaTauri
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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PORTLAND, Oregon — Colton Herta receives a buzz on his phone alerting him every time his name is linked to a Formula One seat next season with AlphaTauri.

The speculation is so rampant that Herta said Friday he’s stopped reading the reports. He’s also informed his father, who acts as his agent, not to brief him on any discussions and leave him alone to finish the final two races of the IndyCar season.

“There’s nothing I want to talk about right now. I just want to focus on these last two weekends and have a little bit of time to decompress and figure out what’s going on during the offseason,” Herta told The Associated Press. “I told my dad, he’s been handling all my management things, I told him ‘I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to deal with it, I just want to finish the season.’

“And then we’ll look at the options and see if I have any.”

The 22-year-old Californian is considered the top candidate to become the first American on the F1 grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015. Herta has a testing contract with McLaren and in July took part in a two-day test for the team at Portimao in Portugal.

He’s got nothing else lined up at this time and McLaren officially won the rights to F2 champion Oscar Piastri when F1’s contract review board ruled Friday that the Australian is free to leave Alpine. Piastri will be teammates with Lando Norris for McLaren next season and that officially closed one option for Herta.

Herta has one year remaining on his IndyCar contract with Andretti Autosport, but team owner Michael Andretti has said he’d not hold his young driver back from an F1 opportunity. However, Andretti is trying to land his own F1 team to be built around Herta and was close last year to a deal to acquire Alfa Romeo Racing.

When that deal fell apart, Andretti shifted his focus toward asking F1 to expand its grid to an additional two Andretti Global entries for 22 cars among 11 teams. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has said there have been multiple inquiries from interested parties wanting to join the grid.

Now comes speculation that both AlphaTauri might be for sale, giving Andretti another shot at buying an existing team, and that Herta is being eyed for a seat. Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda currently drive for AlphaTauri, but Gasly has been linked to joining Alpine as the replacement for Fernando Alonso.

Herta, who has seven career IndyCar victories and heads into Sunday’s penultimate race of the season ranked a career-low 10th in the series standings, repeated Friday he’s content racing in the United States. He also said he wouldn’t take a seat in F1 just to become an F1 driver.

“It depends on a lot of things. I want to be happy about where I am, where I am living, the team I am with. I just need to be comfortable,” Herta told The AP. “There’s a lot of different factors that go into making a decision of when you do switch teams and it’s nothing I’ve started delving into just yet.

“I wouldn’t just go there to be there. I would need to understand exactly what I was getting into, which I don’t right now. So we just have to wait and see what options really exist for me.”

Herta initially pursued European racing early in his career and moved to England alone as a teenager. But when his opportunities dried up he returned to the United States ahead of the 2017 Indy Lights season and won six races over two seasons.

It’s not been enough to earn him the required points for the license required to compete in F1, and although it has been floated that the FIA may examine his body of work and offer Herta an exemption, he said Friday he has no idea where any of that stands.

“There’s so much being said and speculated, I get the notifications on my phone all day. I just make them all say `Read’ and I don’t even read the articles,” he said. “Honestly, everyone else knows more than I do at this point.”

Herta even declined to speculate on where he might drive in 2023.

“No, no. I mean, I have a contract with Andretti for next year and I don’t have anything else right now,” Herta said. “I think there are some guys in this series, even if they were offered an F1 seat, they wouldn’t want it because they like racing in IndyCar so much. Nobody should be ashamed to be an IndyCar driver.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III