“We just can’t make mistakes,” says Herta

Colton Herta admits his 2022 season was a letdown and that eliminating mistakes on-track and in setups is the key target for he and the Andretti Autosport-Honda team in 2023.

“We just can’t make mistakes,” says Herta
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After finishing third in the championship in 2020, and fifth in ’21, Herta fell to 10th last year, with a solitary win in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. A combination of errors in qualifying or a race and a driveshaft failure while leading the second race on the Indianapolis road course meant that he backed up his victory with only one other podium finish.

“Yeah, it's no secret that last year was not a good one for us,” he said. “We need to do better on all fronts. That's what the main part of the off-season has been. It's been looking at everything and just trying to improve everything.

“We just need mistake-free weekends, and that's the goal, one by one… We just can't make mistakes.”

It was difficult season for Andretti Autosport overall with just two victories in total, compared with nine for Team Penske-Chevrolet. Fine-tuning the cars, Herta believes, is another area where he and his team need to up their game.

“It's hard on a weekend that you don't roll off the truck good, because everybody tends to make steps every session, so you always tend to be a little bit far behind. But you really need to hone in on the biggest problems and try to tackle those.

“Luckily, we haven't really rolled off the truck and been terrible. We've just been missing a little bit in some of the parts – a tenth or two – and that's enough to qualify fifth or 13th.”

Herta said that he and race engineer Nathan O’Rourke pored intensely over data and footage during the offseason “seeing what was the problem on that race week and why could we not figure it out in the time frame that we had and how are we going to do it differently when we come back.”

He explained, “It just seemed like during the races, we struggled. Qualifying we seemed to struggle a little bit. My average qualifying was, I think, like 4.2 positions worse than it was the year before, and that affects you big time in the races, as well, if you're not qualifying up front as consistently, just giving yourself more work. So one-lap pace I think we can improve on, and definitely in the race, also.”

The 22-year-old, who is about to start his fifth season in IndyCar, added: “I think I struggled with the change of these red tires. Road and street courses, we seemed to take a step back because of that. That was kind of a focal point of the off-season is understanding what we're feeling in practice versus how much does that change in the race, and then having a setup correlate to that.”

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