IndyCar Colton Herta, Jimmie Johnson Focused on Hydration
Colton Herta has had two significant firsts this season in the NTT IndyCar Series that are somewhat intertwined – a career high in wins (three) and a career low in hydration system failures.
Driver Andretti Autosport made it through all 16 races without having a problem staying hydrated, which is often an overlooked issue for drivers.
“It’s the same with everyone,” Herta told NBC Sports at the Acura Grand Prix in Long Beach, where he finished the 2021 season on Sunday with a two-game winning streak. “They have these systems, and all of them break at some point, and you end up with a race where you don’t have water.
“For me, it had happened at least once a year in my career, sometimes even more. Obviously my career is pretty short so I can’t imagine what the other guys went through.
After a failure in 2019 in Portland that “really beat me” (finishing fourth after starting on pole as a rookie), Herta focused more on conditioning and hydration. He switched to a new ‘cool shirt’ that made headlines after his first victory on April 25 in the oppressive humidity of the Firestone Grand Prix in St. Petersburg.
He also used the FluidLogic hydration system which delivers precise bursts of fluid through a nozzle built into his headset microphone. Herta is reminded by an indicator light on the steering wheel to press the steering wheel button (a Michigan state study earlier this year concluded that driver reaction times suffered and errors increased due to inconsistent hydration from those who relied on a traditional water bottle and hose configuration).
“Throughout this year, I have had zero FluidLogic system failures,” Herta said. “It worked really well. The pump is exceptional, and the most important thing is that you usually use wiper pumps to pump the fluid, but they never work well enough. The other reason is how easy it is. You don’t need an extra tube. It’s a bit related to radio. It is therefore very simple. “
Although Long Beach was the shortest race on the program (and it wasn’t as hot as St. Pete), Herta estimated he still lost 3-4 pounds in 85 laps.
“You’re still working really hard, so that’s just as important,” Herta said.
Andretti de Herta’s teammates have also used the system this year, and it has spread to other series (NASCAR Cup Series drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Tyler Reddick and Anthony Alfredo implemented FluidLogic while d others are testing it while waiting for the new layout of the NextGen cockpit in 2022).
Jimmie Johnson has also used FluidLogic in IndyCar after trying it several years ago in stock cars. The system, which now weighs around 2 pounds, encountered resistance because it was heavier (which is considered a performance barrier).
“I’m involved with both the business and using the product to help develop it,” Johnson told NBC. Sports. “We had to work on some things to make it fit the IndyCar, but it was in the car, and it’s a great system. Engineer / team leader asks for weight and where they can put it is quite a tough challenge, to have it so small and light and survive
“I actually started using the Fluid Logic system at least five years ago in the Cup car. we really tried to help it get started and get it going. We had a few issues, and (former Cup Team Manager) Chad (Knaus) didn’t have the patience to try and help develop it, so we’ve kind of moved on, and now we come back to that. So helping them develop it and make it more easily accessible to all pilots is something that we are actively working on now. “
Johnson said the narrower limits of an IndyCar cockpit create hydration issues as he experiences calf cramps “especially on the brake leg because you press so hard on the pedal.
“It’s more than volume,” Johnson said of staying hydrated. “It’s the relationship between what you put in and with the electrolytes. These cars, although it is a shorter race, the intensity is so much higher, and I had to change my solution that I drink to avoid more cramping here than the Coupe car. The Coupe car was easy because of the bulk and a bag big enough to fit in the car. But with our problems in space, I have to operate a much smaller bladder, and that has changed for me.
Herta said her team was receptive to the system because it is simple to implement.
“Yes, it’s not something you typically worry about, but it’s one of those things that you know will work perfectly,” Herta said. “The water pressure is always good and always constant.”