OCTOBER 27, 2023

Hulkenberg admits F1 talks amid Audi uncertainty

Nico Hulkenberg admits he had "discussions" with Sauber about a potential move to the Swiss team ahead of its future works collaboration with Audi.

Nico Hulkenberg, United States GP 2023
© Haas F1 Team / LAT

Whether Audi, the Volkswagen-owned German carmaker, will actually follow through with its 2026 works Formula 1 project is actually the subject of intense speculation at present.

A new report in Der Spiegel claims VW is analysing the situation again in detail following the recent sacking of former CEO and F1 enthusiast Markus Duesmann - and rumours of the need for a sole focus on production cars and cost-cutting.

An Audi spokesperson told us: The Formula 1 entry is based on a board resolution. The project and the timetable remain unchanged.

However, German Hulkenberg was once again connected with a potential move to Sauber-Audi as recently as this week, with the rumours suggesting he would see out his 2024 contract with Haas before making the move for 2025.

There were discussions, the 36-year-old admitted to Sky Deutschland in Mexico.

I know Andi (Andreas) Seidl very well from his Porsche and Formula 1 days. We get along well, that's no secret, Hulkenberg said.

There were discussions, there was interest. At the end of the day it didn't happen.

However, Hulkenberg admits that the talks could fire up again once he gets into his Haas contract extension next year.

I think it will be very interesting next year and that the cards will be reshuffled, said the veteran of 200 grands prix. "A lot will happen in the driver carousel.

It always depends on how good the package that you have is - how well you can express yourself or not.

The current rumours of indecision about the project and the spectre of VW-powered cost-cutting will also not be music to the ears of potential drivers for the new Sauber-Audi pairing.

When Audi finally gets started in 2026, it's still up in the air whether they will be a top team or not, Hulkenberg said. "They have to prove that and achieve it first.

So there are still some question marks. I'm currently here (at Haas), I feel at home and everything else is up in the air.