Photo above: Colton Herta
Two of the top contenders for the 2022 NTT Indycar Series championship this year say they are focused on Indycar this season while hoping for a future opportunity to drive in Formula 1 someday.
Pato O’Ward finished third in the standings in 2021. The Arrow McLaren SP driver looks to improve that position this season. He did get to test a McLaren F1 car in Abu Dabi in December and still hopes one day to drive in that series. But not this year.
“I mean, right now I have one focus, and
that one focus is in INDYCAR. I want to give these guys
their first championship. I’d love to give them their first 500. This is what my focus is right now,” O’Ward said during Indycar Content Day yesterday.
“Who knows if F1 will be an option or won’t be an option.
Obviously if it comes about, I will 100 percent take it and
every single driver in my position would do it because it’s
Formula 1. That’s what I grew up watching and that’s what
I grew up dreaming of. That same dream that you have as
a kid will never go away.
Right now, like I said, I have a challenge here, and I want
people to enjoy. I want people to enjoy me in INDYCAR. I
want them to know what INDYCAR has to offer, I want
them to enjoy me in INDYCAR, the racing.”
O’Ward said to move up in the standings, the team needs to find consistency.
” I mean, in short, I just don’t think we’ve
had a very consistent car. Where we’ve been strong,
we’ve been very strong, but where we haven’t been strong,
we’ve been very weak, and that’s where we’ve lost a lot of
points. I feel like there’s no sugar coating it. It’s just not
I have to try and maximize what I can control, and I know
the engineers are going to do their part. We’re not up to
where Penske, Andretti and Ganassi are. We sure as hell
are trying to and working hard for that, but they are
Penske, Ganassi and Andretti for a reason.
Yeah, I think we’re definitely on the way.”
Unlike O’Ward, Colton Herta sees F1 as another racing series he wants to try. He realizes he has a limited time frame to get an F1 ride, but thinks his age is in his favor.
“The time is right for me if I got the opportunity. I’d have to
have a good think about it, but I most likely would do it
because I want to run in Formula 1 at some point.
That’s not to say I think people forget that I’m 21 years old
and I can’t come back in five years and still run 15 years in
INDYCAR and be 40.
Yeah, I definitely want to give it a crack if I get the
opportunity. But definitely not disappointed at all in
INDYCAR. I like this series more than any series in the
world, and I enjoy racing in a it a lot. But yeah, there’s just
a lot of stuff that I’d like to try in my racing career outside of
As far as pressure to win the championship this season, Herta isn’t feeling any. He has confidence in his Andretti Autosport team.
“No, because I’m 21, so I think I have
plenty of time. But I do want to win it earlier rather than later.
I don’t feel the pressure from that aspect. I don’t feel like I
need to get it done this year.
But that’s not to say I don’t want to get it done this year.
That’s kind of like my goal.”
Herta said he learned a valuable lesson about collecting points after crashing out of the Nashville race while running second.
“… it was a good learning experience, and it’s
probably in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably good
that it happened, because you just kind of learn from
repetition. That’s probably the best way to learn I feel.
That’s something I’ll keep in the back of my head, and I
think it’s something that next time it won’t be a problem.”
Right now I have Herta and O’Ward as the top two to win the title. At this point, I give a slight edge to Herta. Both drivers need to be more consistent than last year. With the uncertainty of how long they remain in Indycar, now is the time to enjoy these two young drivers.