Andretti reveals botched Abu Dhabi test plan for Herta

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Mario Andretti has revealed that IndyCar star Colton Herta was initially earmarked for F1's post-season test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year with Alfa Romeo after outperforming the team's regular drivers in the Swiss outfit's simulator.

Last summer, Michael Andretti entered talks with Islero Investments - the company that owns Sauber Motorsport - to negotiate a majority stake in the Alfa Romeo F1 team.

A deal looked set to be signed and sealed between the two parties ahead of last October's US Grand Prix, only for the talks to fall apart at the eleventh hour.

But according to Andretti Sr, it had been agreed during the negotiations that if an agreement was reached, Alfa would run Andretti Autosport's Herta in F1's end of season test at Yas Marina.

The motorsport legend also revealed that Herta spent a considerable amount of time in Hinwil and particularly in the Swiss outfit's simulator, preparing himself for his maiden F1 run.


"Look at the talent that is demonstrated already, Colton Herta," said Andretti, talking to motorsport YouTuber David Land.

"He was in Europe at 15 years of age and was driving alongside established Formula 1 drivers right now, young individuals like Lando Norris in Formula 4.

"He went through the ranks and he won everything through the ranks and he gets to the top level in the States and he wins there.

"Not by strategy or anything, by speed, pure speed and elegant, super driving.

"When it was almost done, the deal with Sauber, he spent a week in the wind tunnel and the third day, he was quicker than Giovinazzi and Raikkonen had been on the simulator and we couldn't wait to put him in a Formula 1 car.

"Actually, it was always going to happen in Abu Dhabi but then the deal fell through and the owners wanted to stay on with 20 per cent but have full control.

"There was no way we could go with that."

Speaking about his son's many successful motorsport endeavors as a team owner, Andretti says it's a natural extension of Michael's career as a driver.

"Michael, he stepped out of the cockpit way too early. Looking at my career vis-a-vis his, he was at the top of his game," said the 1978 F1 World Champion.

"But he just looked at more of a future in the sport and to become a team owner was something that was always in the back of his mind - never mine, but his - and he loved the business side of it.

"You can see he has cultivated... I don't know how many team owners are involved in as many disciplines as Michael is.

"You can see even the Road to Indy, he has cultivated talents right from that by having teams in the USF2000, in Indy Lights and so on and so forth and he has made the best of it."

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