American drummer from high school rock band came close to F1 seat this year

An American motor racing star who moonlights as a drummer in a rock band has revealed he came "a lot closer" than people believed to securing a spot on the Formula 1 grid this season.

Colton Herta, 22, is one of motorsport's brightest young talents and has made a name for himself in IndyCar with a handful of race victories to his name already. The team he races for is run by Michael Andretti, son of Mario – the last American to win an F1 race back in 1978.

As talk of Andretti wanting to move into F1 reached fever pitch last year, Herta was also in the headlines. The American team owner was in talks to buy Sauber, which runs the Alfa Romeo team, and it was expected the IndyCar racer would sign up to live his Formula 1 dream.

But suddenly the whole deal went up in smoke, as Andretti walked away from talks. But before he had done that, Herta has claimed, the team owner had pulled him aside at one race in September and told him that they were "really close" to reaching an agreement.

"People were saying it was 50% or 60%," Herta told the Indianapolis Star. "Even then, it was a lot closer than that." The collapse of the deal spelled the end of the young racer's chances of realising his F1 dream this time, and Alfa Romeo would bring in veteran Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes to partner rookie Zhou Guanyu.

In the same interview Herta, who along with his racing career plays the drums in indie rock band The Zibs, revealed the preparations he was doing to make the switch to F1. "It was a crazy ride, the craziest year of my life," he said as he recounted an arranged plan to have a test in a Ferrari in Italy.

"I was definitely telling myself I'd be back [in IndyCar] but I just didn't really know when. I didn't want to race in F1 the rest of my life and retire. I wanted to come back and be able to run the Indy 500 more times and run the full season.

"But I believed I was going [to F1], and I thought it was almost for sure – although there was a small part of me that was still, like, 'Well, I don't have a contract yet, so it can still come undone'. It was just so surreal. I thought we did it for a second, and then it all came crashing down."

Before the deal fell apart, he spent a week in Switzerland with Alfa Romeo where he took on their drivers at the time, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, in the team's wind tunnel. He was faster than both of them – but the collapse of the Andretti deal meant he never got the chance to repeat the feat on the track.

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