Colton Herta will make his Formula 1 test debut next week with McLaren as part of a shootout to see who the team will field in grand prix practice sessions this year.
Earlier this year it was announced that seven-time IndyCar race winner Herta would partake in a testing programme in a year-old McLaren F1 car.
F1 changed its testing restrictions heading into 2022 allowing teams to use their cars from last year in private tests.
Red Bull junior Jehan Daruvala was the first to complete public running in McLaren’s MCL35M with a two-day test prior to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Now, this week at Portimao – which hosted two F1 grands prix in 2020-21 – Andretti Autosport driver Herta (pictured above with McLaren at the Miami Grand Prix) will begin his testing programme with McLaren as part of a three-day test at the Portuguese circuit.
“We have an agreement with Colton where we wanted to give him a chance to run a Formula 1 car to show what he is actually able to do in such a car,” McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl said.
“We have the possibility to run a one-year-old car this year and that’s the objective of the test, first to see how he is doing there.”
Herta has courted a move to F1 since his Andretti team’s ultimately failed bid to buy the Sauber-run Alfa Romeo F1 entry.
And those hopes have been revived by Michael Andretti’s efforts to enter F1 this year – which have so far proved unsuccessful.
This year, F1 teams must run a young driver – somebody who has not competed in more than two F1 races – in at least two free practice sessions this year.
McLaren’s IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward has long been tipped to get one of those outings, having driven for the F1 team in the post-season Abu Dhabi test last December.
Seidl revealed that the team will use the Portimao test as part of its ongoing driver evaluation that will help McLaren “make our mind up who will actually run in those practice sessions”.
Seidl also said McLaren will run “one or two” of its simulator drivers.
Ex-Manor F1 driver Will Stevens and Formula E driver Oliver Turvey are among McLaren’s simulator line-up.