IndyCar driver Colton Herta was optimistic after the two-day testing with McLaren at Portimao.
Herta was behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time this week as he drove McLaren’s MCL35M car at Portimao on Monday and Tuesday. The American driver completed 162 laps throughout two days.
“I did get really comfortable in the car. I could feel the limit, maybe not the consistency that would come with a few more [testing] dates, but I felt like I was close,” Herta said.
“It was a lot of fun. A great two days getting acclimatized to the car, which is obviously quite a bit different to what I’m used to driving. A little bit of a different driving style. But the engineers were very helpful getting me up to speed.
“And what a car, what a car to drive. It’s really special not only to have a first test in a Formula 1 car, but in a race-winning Formula 1 car is even cooler.”
Herta was also impressed with the performance of the car: “Letting off the pit lane speed limiter and all the torque it’s pretty incredible. Even when you’re in such low rpm, it still pulls. That was the biggest thing for me, the straight-line speed, the acceleration, and the braking.
“Obviously, the cornering speeds were higher than what you would get in an IndyCar, but it didn’t stick out to me as much as how impressive the acceleration and how easy it was with all this horsepower to put the throttle down. That was the biggest thing.
“Obviously, the feeling that you get from an IndyCar is way different, a lot because of the lack of power steering. So the overall kickback and smoothness of the wheel doesn’t really transcribe to what you’d get in a Grand Prix car.
“So that was something to get used, slowing down the hands. Obviously the speed’s a lot higher on the road courses. But overall, it was good to get a feeling and a taste of what these things can do.”
Herta revealed that he got up to speed quickly, but it “took a while” for him to set competitive lap times.
“I felt like I got to the limit about midway through the day but that was just separate corners being put together.
“Whereas at the end of the second day I was pretty confident in putting the laps together, low fuel and high fuel and everything in between. But it took a while for sure.”