PRUETT: An open letter to Colton Herta
Colton, I get it. Components 1 has been your dream for nearly so long as you’ve been alive, and if all the things I’m studying is true, you is likely to be buying and selling IndyCar for F1 with Andretti Autosport. So hear me out, as a result of for those who haven’t made a ultimate resolution, all I can say is that this: Please don’t do it.
You’re on the cusp of one thing unimaginable in IndyCar. Positive, your Andretti workforce wasn’t able to put you or your teammates in competition to win the latest championship, however that didn’t cease you from recording three rampaging wins, capped off on the final two rounds the place you toyed with the sector in ways in which have been harking back to drives I’ve seen from IndyCar’s all-time greats.
I had visions of a younger Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Sebastien Bourdais on these pole- and race-winning performances, and that’s not one thing I wish to see disappear. Not once you’re prepared to guide IndyCar into the longer term together with Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward, Rinus VeeKay and the opposite next-generation stars. In your present IndyCar trajectory, the 2020s may simply find yourself being remembered because the Herta decade, which is why the timing of a F1 change appears so ill-fitting.
Dixon was 23 when he gained his first of six IndyCar titles; JPM was 24 in his championship CART season and Bourdais was 25 in the course of the first of his 4 in Champ Automotive. It was solely after they’d secured a number of IndyCar crowns that the Colombian and the Frenchman took their skills to F1. At 21, possibly there’s one thing to be taught from their choices to attend.
Should you have been coming off a disappointing season or two and felt the time was proper for a change, I’d haven’t any argument to make. However that certain wasn’t the case as you closed the 12 months as the most popular driver in IndyCar, demolishing all the things in your path because the momentum constructed from spherical to spherical.
In fact, there’s no assure you’ll be thrust into IndyCar title competition by the Andretti workforce subsequent 12 months, however with the acquisition of Romain Grosjean and his race engineer Olivier Boisson, plus all of the expertise and new concepts they’ll carry to this system, it’s onerous to have something apart from grand optimism to your probabilities and what lies forward in America.
Don’t get me flawed; with a name from Toto Wolff at Mercedes F1 or Christian Horner at Pink Bull to pilot considered one of their vehicles, the complete IndyCar group could be waking up at odd hours on Sunday mornings and cheering you on from afar. The half that’s so troubling is the prospect of seeing you strapped into no matter it is likely to be referred to as sooner or later underneath Andretti’s management – The entrant previously referred to as Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen – as you drive like a demon simply to maintain the Schumachers, Mazepins and Latifis firm within the Tailenders Membership. What an epic waste of time and expertise.
Sadly, the vacation spot the place you is likely to be headed is a distant ninth out of 10 entrants within the championship proper now; over the past 5 years, the Sauber F1/Alfa Romeo workforce has been eighth at its greatest and final at its worst. That form of constant mediocrity paints a worrisome image of how your F1 dream can simply flip right into a nightmare.
You’ve watched as a gentle stream of disillusioned F1 drivers, those that may not abdomen being irrelevant, turned to IndyCar and rediscovered their ardour for driving. In actual fact, look no farther than your teammates Alexander Rossi and Grosjean for classes on the place F1 desires go to die whereas combating over seventeenth on a weekly foundation.
Rossi finally selected IndyCar, gained the 100th Indianapolis 500 on his debut, and has positioned as excessive as second within the championship since leaving F1. Grosjean, the embodiment of each constructive factor IndyCar has to supply, spent final season wanting and performing like a person who was free of a protracted and merciless sentence in grand prix jail. Their examples function cautionary tales of why I actually hope you don’t shackle your self to F1 anonymity.
And that’s not meant to be a critique of your expertise or Andretti’s capacity to rework the present Sauber/Alfa Romeo workforce right into a extra aggressive group. However what number of years could be wanted to get there? What number of seasons in your younger prime could be sacrificed throughout that rebuilding course of? Two? Three? 5? And what number of IndyCar championships is likely to be left on the desk in the course of the experiment?
There are questions, after all, as as to whether F1’s comically inflexible licensing system would permit you (or Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward) to realize entry to the grid within the close to future, however even with an excellent license in hand, we’re nonetheless speaking about casting apart your standing as a perennial IndyCar title contender for the humbling depths of aggressive poverty in F1.
Is there worth to be present in leaving IndyCar as considered one of its most formidable stars to be able to take a look at your mettle in opposition to Valtteri Bottas, the driving force Mercedes is chopping in favor of fellow younger phenom George Russell? Bottas is a severe operator; for those who have been capable of beat the Finn, it could definitely be a powerful feat. However would it not result in these aforementioned calls from Wolff or Horner, or would it not merely show you can match or exceed Lewis Hamilton’s former No. 2?
About the one constructive I can give you right here entails your No. 26 Honda IndyCar. The rumor I’ve heard for a short time now’s what may occur with the seat you’d vacate, and if that intel is correct, a transfer to F1 may give Andretti Autosport’s new Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood a main full-time job within the automotive you’ve wheeled to 5 wins since 2020. Moderately than Kirkwood’s promotion approaching the heels of dropping you, would it not be loopy to want for you and Kirkwood – working along with Rossi and Grosjean – to show Andretti’s IndyCar workforce into hell on 16 wheels?
Regardless of how I run the varied outcomes by way of my head, I preserve ending up with you returning to IndyCar in a number of years with an enormous assortment of thin denims and knit caps, and never a lot else of worth to indicate for the F1 journey. If it isn’t with a workforce that routinely finishes inside the highest 10, why commerce IndyCar wins and title pictures away simply to heed a thousand blue flags in F1?
And in case your life gained’t be full with out F1, let your workforce proprietor work his magic within the coming years and switch The workforce that is likely to be referred to as Andretti Grand Prix right into a program that may reward your potential.
Till then, keep right here. Lean into your excellence. Put your face on the Borg-Warner trophy. Add a number of championship rings to your fingers. Begin the method of turning into an all-timer. The Tailenders Membership is the final place you belong.