Team owner Michael Andretti says he wouldn’t stand in IndyCar sensation Colton Herta’s way if a top Formula 1 team came calling for his services.

21-year-old Herta claimed his fourth career IndyCar Series victory for Andretti at St Petersburg on Sunday to move up to fourth place in the championship standings.

It followed an impressive second IndyCar season last year in which Herta finished third in the standings. Despite his superb form and the Haas F1 team’s desire to field an American in its driver line-up, the California-born racer was overlooked for 2021.

Speaking to RACER, Andretti - son of 1978 F1 world champion Mario - insisted he would not block Herta from making a potential move to F1, but only if an approach came from a big team.

“From a selfish standpoint, I’m hoping he drives for me for many, many, many years,” Michael Andretti told RACER. “But then again, I don’t want to stand in his way.

“If a team like Ferrari calls him, I’m not going to stand in his way on it. But if one of the teams in last or second to last position in the championship over there calls, then I might say, ‘Yeah, I’d want to keep you here.’

“I’d be doing him a favour by keeping him out of those teams. I know a lot of those guys over there now and I would encourage it if it’s a good situation.”

Meanwhile, Herta admitted he would be interested in a switch to F1 if the right opportunity arose.

“Any conversation about Formula 1, it doesn’t really do much for me, unless you’re putting pen to paper,” Herta said.

“There’s so, so many unknowns and stuff that never ends up happening. People can say that all they want, but the fact is, until it happens, it doesn’t mean anything.

“I would be interested, of course. I think it’s kind of unrealistic to be, and almost arrogant, in a way, to just say, ‘Well, I need to be in a top three team.’ I think you have to work for it.

“Honestly, if I would get the call to go to Haas or something, it would be something I’d be interested in, but only if it was from a Ferrari-backed programme, and then I had the opportunity to move up,” he added.

“I’m not going to go over there and sign a three-year deal just with Gene Haas, 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.”

Having received a congratulatory message from a current F1 team boss following his latest win on Sunday, Herta hopes his form will at least open the door for an F1 test outing.

“People are definitely watching, and I would love, if nothing comes else out of it, just test a Formula 1 car,” he explained. “Because I’m sure even the bad cars feel pretty amazing to drive.”

 

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