Herta and Rossi content, doubtful they could have beaten Palou

Californians Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi were pleased with their prominence in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, effectively a home race for them, but doubted whether even on the same strategy as winner Alex Palou that they could have beaten him.

“It’s a good result for us today, something to build off,” said Herta, who had struggled to turn huge pace in his Andretti Global-Honda into a satisfying result over the last three rounds. “Obviously it’s frustrating not to win here I think for both of us being from California.

“The Gainbridge Honda was fast. We showed it saved fuel fast and it could run flat out fast. Yeah, I’m happy with the podium.”


Herta pitted under the first caution, obliging him to save fuel in the next stint so he wouldn’t have to make two more stops. A rash of cautions towards the end of the race eased his fuel worries, but he still couldn’t get around Palou.

“I wasn’t fast enough on the restarts,” he said. “I wasn’t as quick as him on the restarts, so I never got a good run at it.

“Beforehand we were limiting our push to pass because of how much fuel we were having to save. At the end I was full out [he set his fastest lap on the 95th and final lap] and I couldn’t get around him.”

Asked if he was content with the strategy that the No. 26 Andretti had gone for by pitting under caution just 12 laps after his first stop, Herta replied: “It’s hard for us to know inside the car exactly what’s happening in the race, so it’s hard to answer that question.

“I think either way, we probably maximized our strategy. We pulled a good gap on everybody else, besides Alex. I was happy when we made that decision in the race that we ran to the end of it. It’s still unclear if that was the right call or not.”

Rossi, whose Arrow McLaren No. 7 was the only Chevrolet-powered car in the top six, converted that into being highest-placed Chevy runner in the race, his third place being his first podium finish of the year and only his second since joining McLaren in 2023.

“I think it was a good day for the organization,” he said. “I think our pace out front, pushing, was certainly better than what we could do once it switched to a fuel race.

“Nonetheless, it was a great job by the team all around to manage a difficult race with the strategy flipping back and forth. Kind of wild there with all the restarts at the end.

“I think we were able to just start strong this weekend. Obviously qualifying was strong for us. We know how important qualifying is to get a good result in this championship. We knew we had a good shot at it today.

“I was glad we were able to manage the race and have good pace kind of in all phases. It was a welcome change of pace. Hopefully it gives us a good foundation, good framework to go forward for what few road courses we have left in the year.

Regarding strategy, he said: “It’s hard for me to really comment on it right now because I need to look at the race trace and everything. But certainly I think we were quicker when we weren’t saving fuel, at least on the No. 7 car side. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the right strategy for us. I honestly have no idea what Alex’s pace was in clean air. Until I know that, I can’t really answer it.

“But yeah, I mean, he was strong all day. We knew he was the car to beat, and was going to be hard to beat.”

Story originally appeared on Racer