Josef Newgarden believes UK stint crucial in Colton Herta’s development

IndyCar Series front-runner Josef Newgarden believes Colton Herta’s stint in the UK – including the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost – was important to his development after the latter became the youngest-ever IndyCar race-winner in only his third start at Circuit of the Americas on 24th March.

Herta, who contested the Ford EcoBoost-powered series in 2015 under its MSA Formula guise, finished third overall for Carlin with four race victories and a further eight podium finishes.

His then-team mate Lando Norris, incidentally, also made history last weekend in scoring the first Formula 1 World Championship points for a British F4 graduate for McLaren at the Bahrain Grand Prix in sixth.

Newgarden finished runner-up to James Cole in the 2009 British Formula Ford Championship, before progressing through the international ranks to claim the 2011 IndyLights title, and the IndyCar Series crown – his only to-date – in 2017.

He draws parallels with Herta’s rise through the ranks – not least joining a long list of motorsport stars that can attribute their roots to a Ford-supported junior category.

“He’s done a very similar thing to what I did,” Newgarden told Autosport.

“A couple years earlier he went over [to the UK] at 16 or so. I was 17, 18. I went over with a Team USA scholarship, different than what Colton did.

“My first year in the UK was in the British Formula Ford championship. Colton went over to run F4, which is similar to what British Formula Ford [was].

“That UK training ground is really solid. I think those years that Colton spent there was time well spent.

“Then he came back to America, straight to [Indy] Lights, then obviously to IndyCar here. So, it was a pretty good path.”

Both drivers will continue their IndyCar campaign at Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama, this coming weekend [6th-7th April].

The 2019 F4 British Championship begins the same weekend, at Brands Hatch, with a capacity trackside audience expected and continued live, free-to-air television coverage nationwide on ITV4.