McLaren has had a fairly consistent year, although it is not being the best of all. If we think back, in pre-season testing in Bahrain, the MCL36 looked extremely weak compared to its competitors. Subsequently, the British team gradually recovered until it is currently fighting for fourth position in the constructors' championship, since third place is currently held by Mercedes, and it is expected that this will continue. Today, McLaren has carried out two days of testing at the Portimao circuit with the MCL35M from the 2021 Formula 1 season with the American driver Colton Herta. This driver is currently developing with the Andretti team in the American IndyCar category and has a total of 6 victories in his record, in addition to having finished in third position in the 2020 season of the category. Today, Andreas Seidl has commented on his impressions about this test with the North American driver, and the McLaren team principal has been very optimistic and happy, these were the most important statements from him.
When asked about the possibility of Colton being a serious contender for a McLaren F1 seat in 2024, Andreas Seidl commented: “As always, we need to be step by step. We gave Colton a chance to experience a Formula 1 car for the first time to show his performance and that was the focus. What comes next, it’s step by step, it will also take some time.”
The American driver completed 750 kilometres around the Portuguese circuit in the two days of testing. As we know, Formula 1 cars are very sensitive in terms of tyre compounds and mechanical settings, like engine modes. Andreas was asked if Colton tried to race with different tyres or settings, this is what he answered: “Yes. There are, let’s say, different testing objectives. The first one was to give Colton a chance to get used to the car but then also switch focus on try new driving techniques for example, getting used to different operational aspects of Formula 1 race weekends like comparing different tyre compounds, running with different fuel loads as well, qualy runs, race simulations as well.”
“I have to say it, the team was quite impressed as Colton managed all these [aspects] and this is a professional approach and that was great to see as well. […] His approach to the team made him gain pace, confidence and also finding always the right balance between getting the car to the limit but also keeping it on the track. Very happy on how the test went.”
We will see if in the future the opportunity arises for the American driver to be a Formula 1 driver, however, McLaren focuses on the present and has not provided more information, except that they do not rule out the 22-year-old driver to drive this year’s car in a free practice session of a Formula 1 Grand Prix.