Colton Herta signs four-year extension with Andretti Autosport through the 2027 season

Colton Herta Andretti extension
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Colton Herta has signed a four-year contract extension with Andretti Autosport that ties the American racer to the IndyCar team through 2027 and indicates Herta has put a pause on his Formula One ambitions.

The extension announced Tuesday is significant because it shuts out the biggest teams in IndyCar from poaching Herta when his current Andretti deal expires at the end of the 2023 season. And it suggests both he and team owner Michael Andretti have accepted neither will be on the F1 grid anytime soon.

The extension specifies that Herta will drive the No. 26 Andretti Autosport entry in IndyCar with sponsorship from loyal partner Gainbridge, which signed a concurrent extension.

“Colton is a true talent in a race car and has natural determination that makes him want to win,” Michael Andretti said. “We’ve been really proud to represent Gainbridge. We share a commitment to compete at the top level and look forward to seeing Colton return to victory lane in the yellow and black Gainbridge colors.”

It brings to a pause a rollercoaster year for the 22-year-old Herta, who at times seemed poised to become the first American driver on the F1 grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015. His chance was scuttled by the FIA, the governing body for F1, which would not grant Herta the Super License required to compete in the global series.

The extension also shows some resignation that Andretti Global will not be on the current 10-team F1 grid anytime soon. Michael Andretti, with assistance in part from Gainbridge, had hoped to convince the FIA to expand the grid for two American-owned cars, with Herta one of the drivers.

But the existing F1 teams are unwelcoming to grid expansion and wealth redistribution, and although Herta was free to leave Andretti for an F1 opportunity, the lack of Super License has him currently relegated to IndyCar.

“I’m super happy and grateful for everything the entire Andretti and Gainbridge teams have done for me,” Herta said in an Andretti-issued statement. “This is a huge step for me professionally and I’m so glad it can be with a top team like Andretti Autosport. We have big goals and a lot of work ahead of us, but I can’t be happier to do it with this team and represent Gainbridge.”

From the IndyCar perspective the signing is huge: The No. 10 at Chip Ganassi Racing is expected to open when Alex Palou moves to McLaren in 2024, reigning series champion Will Power is entering a contract year on the No. 12 with Team Penske, and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon turns 43 next season – his 21st year with Ganassi.

There’s also been a ton of F1 hype surrounding Herta, who this year signed a testing contract with McLaren. But Herta presently lacks the points required to obtain F1’s mandatory license, in large part because IndyCar is undervalued in the ranking system. The FIA does not govern IndyCar, or NASCAR for that matter, and essentially rates both as mid-pack series.

Red Bull had asked that Herta, a seven-race winner who in 2019 became IndyCar’s youngest ever winner days before his 19th birthday, be granted a waiver for a Super License. Had the FIA not refused, Red Bull had hoped to put Herta at its AlphaTauri junior team next season.

The lack of a license essentially shut the door on F1 for Herta for now, and the Californian did not attend last week’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

Herta was a popular figure at the Miami Grand Prix in May when he attended as a guest of McLaren, asked to sit in the F1 car and requested a diagram of the steering wheel. When Herta showed up two months later at a McLaren F1 test in complete preparation, he wowed on the track, word spread, and rival teams developed sudden interest in landing the American.

In the meantime, McLaren courted too many drivers to count and Herta found himself out of the rotation when the team announced it would satisfy F1’s development driver rule by using Palou (a Spaniard) at the U.S. GP’s free first practice and Pato O’Ward (a Mexican) at Abu Dhabi in the season finale.

Australian upcoming star Oscar Piastri was hired for McLaren’s second seat on the 2023 grid, and Herta was officially out of the McLaren planning.

There’s also less urgency surrounding Herta now that Williams plans to promote F2 driver Logan Sargeant of Florida into F1 next year should the 21-year-old earn his Super License by season’s end. That would give Williams the win in scoring the newest American driver from F1’s fastest-growing market.

The 2023 season will be Herta’s fifth in IndyCar. Gainbridge has been an Andretti top partner since 2018.

Herta will be the Andretti veteran in a lineup that lost Indianapolis 500 winners Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay heading into this year.

Texas starting lineup: Felix Rosenqvist back on pole; Scott Dixon qualifies second


FORT WORTH, Texas — For the second consecutive year, Felix Rosenqvist will lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren driver is hoping the third time will be the charm at the 1.5-mile oval, where he has run extremely well but has only a career-best 12th in five starts.

“We’ve always been good here, but this is a whole different confidence level compared to last year,” Rosenqvist told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Let’s try to wrap it up (Sunday).”

In 2020, Rosenqvist was competing for a podium when he crashed with 10 laps remaining at Texas.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for speeds from Saturday’s time trials

INDYCAR AT TEXASSchedule, start times, how to watch on NBC, Peacock

Last year, he started first on an oval for the first time in his career but finished 21st because of a broken halfshaft.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and naturally, I’ve always been OK here,” Rosenqvist said. “It was the first oval that made sense to me. Every year I’m building on that. But looking at the results, they don’t represent the speed I normally have.

“I don’t want to jinx anything, but I hope tomorrow is going to go a bit better and some luck our way would be nice. It’s been feeling super good. Arrow McLaren has been mega every session, so just keep it rolling.”

Arrow McLaren qualified all three of its Chevrolets in the top five, building on a second for Pato O’Ward and fourth for Alexander Rossi in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The March 5 season opener was a disappointing start for Rosenqvist who was squeezed into the wall by Scott Dixon on the first lap.

Dixon, a five-time winner at Texas, will start second Sunday, followed by Rossi and Josef Newgarden. O’Ward will start fifth alongside Takuma Sato, who will start on the outside of the third row in his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.

During nearly four hours of practice and qualifying (including a special high-line session), Saturday’s lone incident involved Conor Daly.

The Ed Carpenter Racing driver spun three times but stayed off the wall and in the frontstretch grass. Aside from a front wing change and new tires, there was no damage to his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet during the incident midway through the 30-minute session in which drivers were limited to the high line.

“I hadn’t really had a moment before, but it snapped really aggressively,” Daly told NBC Sports after final practice. “Not ideal, but I do know my way around correcting a spin it seems like. I drove NASCAR last weekend and that seemed to help a little bit. I drove in the dirt a lot in USAC Midgets and seemed to be able to save something but not ideal or what we wanted to have happen.”

Daly will start 25th of 28 cars alongside teammate Rinus VeeKay in Row 13. Carpenter qualified 18th.

“Our three of our cars were clearly looking for something. Mechanical grip is for sure what we need. Qualifying we actually expected to be a lot better, but we found an issue there. We’ll see what happens. This race can change a lot. I’m confident in the team to hopefully figure some things out for tomorrow.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine and speed):


1. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Chevy, 220.264 mph
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 219.972


3. (7) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Chevy, 219.960
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 219.801


5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 219.619
6. (11) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 219.508


7. (10) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 219.480
8. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 219.355


9. (18) David Malukas, Dallara-Honda, 219.256
10. (26) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 219.184


11. (28) Romain Grosjean, Dallara-Honda, 219.165
12. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Dallara-Honda, 219.146

ROW 7 

13. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Dallara-Chevy, 219.100
14. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Chevy, 218.892


15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Dallara-Chevy, 218.765
16. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 218.698


17. (77) Callum Ilott, Dallara-Chevy, 218.427
18. (33) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 218.375

ROW 10

19. (78) Agustin Canapino, Dallara-Chevy, 218.367
20. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Dallara-Honda, 218.227

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 218.196
22. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 218.103

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Dallara-Honda, 217.676
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 217.611

ROW 13

25. (20) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 217.457
26. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 216.880

ROW 14

27. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Dallara-Honda, 216.210
28. (30) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 216.103