AUGUST 1, 2002
Herta and Minardi
On Sunday we revealed that Bryan Herta would be joining Minardi at the Thunder in the Park event at Donington in the middle of August. As testing in this period is not allowed, the event will not provide Herta with any serious mileage in a Formula 1 car. The most he can hope for would be two or three laps between pit stops and a few laps in a two-seater Minardi, which is not the same thing as an actual F1 machine.
Thus to suggest that Herta is going to jump straight into F1 to replace Alex Yoong is an idea which is, at best, fanciful. No serious driver is going to go straight into a race meeting without first testing the car and making sure that the basic elements are in place as it could do considerably more harm than good. It should also be added that at 32 Herta is getting a little old for F1. At the moment only six of the 22 F1 drivers are older than Herta.
Having said that the Californian driver has had a distinguished career in CART, which lasted for eight years during which he overcame injuries from a major accident in Toronto in 1994. He came back in 1995 with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and took pole in Phoenix and then moved to Team Rahal for 1996 and led at Laguna Seca until overtaken on the last lap by Alex Zanardi. He did not win his first race until 1998 (at Laguna Seca) and followed up with a second victory at the track 1999. He had a disjointed year with Walker Racing and Mo Nunn Racing in 2000 before joining the secondary Forsythe team in 2001. Since that closed down he has been racing in the American Le Mans Series.
Herta tried to put together a deal to become the Arrows test driver last winter but those negotiations failed. The logical thing to do, if Minardi is interested, would be to try to secure a drive for the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, a move which would allow Herta to do some testing before the event. Much, however, depends on what the Malaysians want to do about Alex Yoong. He is expected to stand down for the next two races, to be replaced by Fernando Alonso. It was then felt that he would be put back in the car for Monza, Indianapolis and Suzuka.
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