Herta enters Blue Flag debate – and admits he killed a squirrel
Herta, who led 91 of 95 laps, was the most threatened during the race whenever he hit the laggards, allowing championship leader Alex Palou to close within a second of Andretti Autosport-Honda.
Asked by Motorsport.com if he thought it was time for the IndyCar to wave blue flags at backmarkers and encourage them to step aside, as in other high-level racing series, Herta replied. : ” Yes and no. In the car, if you asked me, I would have said, yes 100% we need the blue flag.
“But I think from a consumer perspective it makes the race more interesting, especially when you get to a place like this it’s so hard to overtake. Either you wait for your tires to drop off drastically, which never happens to top performing guys, or something like [traffic].
“It made the race interesting up front. Before that, I had a lead of six or seven seconds and more over Alex for a good part of the first half of the race. It really held him back and brought him right to me. It was something new to me. I never really had that in IndyCar, where I was spinning people and struggling to do tricks [while also] have a car that I have to defend myself against.
“It certainly made things more stressful, but it made the race more fun. In Detroit when it happened, I wasn’t in a position to win. I think I was, like, third at the time, it was even more fun.
“When you’re leading it’s not that much fun. Any other place that gives you an opportunity to win, that’s the point of IndyCar racing, isn’t it? You can win from anywhere. As we have seen [Romain] Grosjean started 13th and finished third. I think it’s a part of IndyCar racing that has always been there.
Herta admits he was surprised to see Grosjean on the podium, given that Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda started 13e.
“I was very confused as to how it turned out, especially in this place, wasn’t it? Herta said. “I think he was perfectly positioned to use this strategy of using his two new reds [having failed to reach the Top 12 in qualifying]. He used it very well.
“The tire situation was so interesting. Worn reds fell and fell on lap 11, while new reds let you run to lap 20 and push again after that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a deficit between the two-lap reds and the brand-new reds, a difference of 10 laps in degrees[radation], which is pretty crazy.
Late in the race, Herta radioed his strategist and father, two-time Laguna Seca winner Bryan Herta, to check his front wing after hitting an animal on the climb from Turn 5 to Turn 6.
“It was either a squirrel or a rabbit, I don’t know. The last time I was here there were a lot of squirrels on the trail so I imagine he was one of those guys unfortunately.
“But he came with me to win the race, so… He won an IndyCar race. He has more than a lot of IndyCar drivers!
Herta agreed that the squirrel on the front wing crossed the line in front of him, adding, “Yes, he really won the race.”
He also said the Sunday morning warm-up “was not very helpful” as it took place in foggy and cold conditions, and the changes made by the team during qualifying night in the race had used knowledge based on his previous victorious record. at Laguna Seca in 2019.
“We had a good idea of what we wanted to do based on 2019 and then based on what we see the aeroscreen doing during races as well. Kind of a hybrid setup that we envisioned between the two.
“It worked well. I don’t think it was great. There are always things we can work on. But I think we had the best car today.
Herta’s only obvious mistake in the race came on Lap 2 when he passed Turn 4 and lost momentum, allowing fellow frontline Alex Rossi to come close to him in the race at Turn 5. .Herta took the race line, Rossi went inside, but on exiting the turn Rossi’s right front wheel hit Herta’s left rear, and Rossi went off the track, stalled and went down a turn.
“I dropped a wheel on turn 4 and he shot me,” Herta said. “I defended in part. He chose to go inside… I didn’t see any replay or anything. From my point of view, I gave it enough room. I think he walked up the trail, let loose on the sidewalk inside.
“Then I felt a touch in my left back, then I saw it spin inward. That’s what I imagine happened. I didn’t see anything, so I can’t really tell if I’m right or wrong. “
Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda
Photo By: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images