Andretti Autosport is understood to be closing in on a deal to take a majority stake in Sauber, which runs the Alfa Romeo-branded team in F1, and add to its extensive racing portfolio.
If the deal is completed, it could pave the way for Andretti IndyCar driver Herta to join the F1 grid in the future, potentially as early as next season should allowances be made for him to gain a superlicence.
Herta finished fifth in this year’s IndyCar standings and scored three victories, including back-to-back wins to close out the season at Laguna Seca and Long Beach.
Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar driver O’Ward was also a regular front-runner in IndyCar this season, and was team-mates with Herta at Andretti in Indy Lights as they fought for the title in 2018.
O’Ward told Autosport he thought Herta would “do great” if he did make the switch to F1, believing the American driver had everything he needed to succeed with the right car.
“He’s a very talented, very fast individual, and I think he’ll have no problem,” O’Ward said in an interview at the McLaren Technology Centre.
“Obviously it’s not like he’s going to go in and just shatter everyone. But I think he as a driver has everything to be successful. And I think he will be.
“Maybe not from the first race. But the guy will get in sync with it. He’s going to be fighting up there, if he is given the right car.
“There’s no doubt in my mind. Not that it’s going to be a struggle, but everything has its path of learning.
“But given the right time, he’ll be just fine.”
Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images
A move for Herta would come as a boost for F1’s standing in the United States. He would become the first American to race in the series since Alexander Rossi in 2015, coming at a time when two U.S. rounds will be staged next year following the addition of Miami to the calendar.
Former IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick told Motorsport TV that an F1 switch would be a “totally great opportunity” for Herta, particularly if he raced for an Andretti-run team.
“To have it be all American, I think that’d be great,” Patrick said. “I’d love to see how that goes.”