Andretti Autosport have highlighted Colton Herta as the "leading" candidate for an F1 seat, should the team succeed in their efforts to join the grid in 2026.
In a joint bid with car manufacturer General Motors, the American team announced their intention to follow the FIA's Expression of Interest guidelines when the process officially begins.
It would be the first step towards joining the Formula 1 grid for the 2026 season, with regulations currently allowing the field to expand up to 26 cars, if met with approval from the FIA and F1.
With the potential for a thirteen-team grid, the prospect of more drivers joining F1 has intrigued many, with questions already being asked about driver targets for Audi, who have also committed to the sport for 2026.
Chairman and CEO of Andretti Global, Michael Andretti, confirmed their current frontrunner for a 2026 drive.
"We definitely have a plan to have an American driver and I think you all know who is leading the pack on that one," Andretti conceded to media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked specifically about Herta's F1 2026 prospects.
"With Colton, we do have him under contract right now in IndyCar, and we definitely want to make this at least and all-American effort to make sure that we have an American driver in the seat."
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Herta's prospects for 2026
Herta has been frequently been suggested as the IndyCar driver that could make a switch to Formula 1 racing.
Son of IRL IndyCar and CART driver Bryan Herta, Colton became the youngest ever IndyCar race winner (18 years, 11 months and 25 days) at the 2019 IndyCar Classic event at the Circuit of the Americas.
Since joining the Andretti IndyCar team he has become their lead driver, achieving a championship-best finish of 3rd in 2020.
The seven-time IndyCar race winner was heavily linked with a seat at AlphaTauri for 2023, but he was unable to secure a superlicence through the conventional qualifying points, and no dispensation was granted.
He is one of McLaren's current development drivers and has previously sampled F1 machinery, with more tests likely to become available in 2023.
Should the F1 2026 season start at a similar time of the year to 2023, Herta will still be 25 years old but, if he succeeds in obtaining enough superlicence points before then, he will likely be in the frame for other F1 opportunities.
Video: How expensive is champagne in F1?
Although champagne has not been exclusively used on the podium, with F1 recently moving back to using sparkling wine, it forms a key part of post-race celebrations.
But what are the origins of this world-famous tradition? And with so many litres of this luxury drink sprayed throughout the season, how much money does such a champagne shower actually cost?
Check out our handy explainer video below.