- IndyCar race-winner’s son not yet 15 but ready to take on the MSA Formula challenge
- Testing pace and love for wet-weather racing makes him one to watch
13 March, 2015 – He is set to be the youngest driver on the grid for the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula championship and he’s among the furthest travelled, but surprisingly Colton Herta is one of the most experienced drivers lining up to take part in Britain’s only FIA-accredited Formula 4 series.
Colton does not turn 15 – the minimum age to race one of the new FIA-certified MSA Formula chassis – until five days before the opening meeting of the season at Brands Hatch, yet the Californian, son of IndyCar race winner Bryan Herta, has not only been karting for eight years he also has considerable single-seater knowledge from outings back home.
In 2013 he won the Pacific F1600 Championship thanks to 10 race victories, and was second in the summer series organised by the well known Skip Barber Racing School. Last year he got to grips with the powerful USF2000 car, discovering in the process a useful talent which will stand him in good stead in the UK – he enjoys racing in wet weather. “I am finding the weather here cold and wet and a little different to what I’m used to back home, just north of Los Angeles,” admits Colton, “but it’s not a problem when I’m racing because I love driving in the wet. It’s just something I discovered the first time that I tried it.”
Herta, who will be one of Carlin’s three teenage talents making their bids for the inaugural MSA Formula title, alongside Brit Lando Norris and Romanian Petru Florescu, is impressing with his pace and style in the pre-season collective tests. At Brands Hatch in the pouring rain of the afternoon session Norris and Herta were the only two drivers under the 55-second mark around the Indy circuit, and at Donington Park Colton beat Lando to the honour of fastest time of the day.
He is enjoying the British tracks: “I love them. The traditional British track is nice and narrow, challenging and with every sort of corner, and I’m enjoying the car too. It’s great for what they could do with the budget that they had. It’s definitely a nice car to drive. I have never driven anything with paddle shifts before and I like that attribute. All round it’s a great car to drive.”
Colton’s dad was a visitor to Brands Hatch to watch him test: “My dad surprised me; he just turned up in the garage. I didn’t know he was coming, and it was great to see him. He’ll be back for the first race.”
There’s one aspect of his new life in the UK which Colton is finding tough, and that is keeping up with his schoolwork. “I do on-line schooling on my computer. They set me assignments and I do them when I can… I sometimes have to put in 10-hour days if I have been away testing to get as much done as I can. But you got to do what you got to do…”
Colton and his colleagues don’t have long to wait before they can really get down to business – the live-on-ITV4 opening rounds of MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost are set to take place over the weekend of 4/5 April.