Mario Andretti taps Colton Herta as 'the next me'

Colton Herta during the Open Test at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, TX -- Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey (Getty Images)
© XPB 

The 1978 Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti has revealed the young driver he believes is the pick of the next generation of motor racing stars.

In an article for this month’s Robb Report magazine, the 80-year-old motor sports icon said that in his view the rising IndyCar talent Colton Herta was destined to be a big star.

"For the April issue of Robb Report, I was asked 'Who is the next me?' I picked 20-year-old Colton Herta," Andretti said on social media. "When I look at him, I see myself."

As well as his own successes racing in F1, IndyCar and the Daytona 500, Andretti is the patriarch of a motor racing dynasty that includes his son Michael who runs Andretti Autosports, and grandson Marco.

Colton Herta comes from a similarly proven motor racing as the son of Bryan Herta, himself a successful former IndyCar driver turned team manager who was behind Dan Wheldon's winning entry in the 2011 Indianapolis 500.

"Such an honor for [Colton], thank you [Mario]," he responded on social media site Twitter when told about Andretti's selection.

The young Colton was equally blown away with the high praise from such a legend of the sport.

"Although there will never another Mario Andretti, this is the greatest compliment I could ever think of getting. Thank you for including me!" he posted.

The younger Herta has already demonstrated himself worthy of the praise, after becoming IndyCar's youngest race winner last season in only his third outing in the series at the Circuit of the Americas with Harding Steinbrenner Racing.

Herta won again in the season finale at Laguna Seca. He finished in seventh place in last year's IndyCar championship, but missed out on Rookie of the Year honours to Ganassi's Felix Rosenqvist.

He was also one of the drivers who boosted RLL Racing’s BMW M8 to victory in the GT Le Mans class of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona at the start of the year, which he followed up with a third place finish at Petit Le Mans in October.

Herta has since been confirmed as moving to the Andretti Autosports team for the 2020 season, the start of which is currently on indefinite hold due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemi.

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