Sainz, Hulkenberg, or Young Driver: Who Will Sauber & Audi Choose?

At the end of 2024, 14 drivers’ contracts will expire, and Sauber is considering options for 2025, with Valtteri Bottas‘ contract extending until 2025, and Nico Hulkenberg, Theo Pourchaire, and Carlos Sainz being potential candidates for the team, especially with Audi’s entry into the team in 2026.

Highlights

‣ At the end of 2024, 14 drivers’ contracts will expire, potentially leading to a significant reshuffling of drivers across teams.
‣ Sauber’s main focus is on 2026 when Audi is expected to join the team, which could influence driver selection for 2025.
‣ Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou are currently contracted with Sauber until 2025 and 2024 respectively, with Theo Pourchaire serving as a reserve driver.
‣ Nico Hulkenberg, Theo Pourchaire, and Carlos Sainz are potential candidates for Sauber’s driver lineup in 2025, with Audi’s entry potentially influencing the selection.


2024’s end is looming, and it’s a big one for the racing world. A whopping 14 drivers’ contracts are set to expire. But, hey, don’t forget about the six drivers who are locked in past that season. It’s a Silly Season of epic proportions, folks.

So, what’s the current lay of the land? Well, Sauber’s got their eyes on 2026. That’s when Audi steps into the picture. The question is, will this shake-up impact the driver selection for 2025?

Let’s talk about Sauber’s drivers. Valtteri Bottas is sticking around until 2025. Guanyu Zhou’s got the other seat until 2024. But, it’s no secret that Sauber’s scouting for other options. They’ve even chatted with Nico Hulkenberg. But, Guenther Steiner put the brakes on that by extending his contract.

Sauber’s got another ace up their sleeve – The Pourchaire. He’s their reserve driver in 2024. The 2023 Formula 2 champ is hoping for a shot at an F1 seat via Super Formula in 2024. But, he’s got to impress the bigwigs in the Japanese championship and in his reserve role.

So, who’s in the running for Sauber’s 2025 seat? Hulkenberg could be back in the game. Despite the team still going by Sauber and Audi not wanting their name on the car, Audi’s got some sway in the team’s future. A German driver like Hulkenberg could be a good fit. But, a Bottas-Hulkenberg duo would make for an older line-up in 2025.

Theo Pourchaire, Sauber’s 2024 reserve driver, is also a contender. He’s got to prove his mettle in Super Formula. His F2 title wasn’t enough to secure him a seat. But, a Super Formula title could do the trick, especially if he nails it in his first year.

Sauber’s also a potential launchpad for other talents. They’re getting engines from Ferrari until 2025. And Ferrari’s got a promising talent in Oliver Bearman. Even though their deal with Sauber ends after 2025, Sauber’s got the most competitive seat Ferrari can offer this British whiz kid.

Carlos Sainz is another name often linked to Sauber. His dad races for Audi’s team at Dakar, and Junior’s got his sights set on leading a team. But, it’s clear he won’t be doing that at Ferrari. Despite a strong year, it’s Charles Leclerc who’s been offered a multi-year deal at a higher fee. Sainz is left with a one-year deal.

Sainz could be tempted by a leading role with a rising team like Audi. The catch? Audi’s not entering F1 until 2026. By then, Sainz will be 31, and Audi’s unlikely to be the immediate favourite for the title. Plus, Sauber’s currently ninth on the grid, a big step down for Sainz. Is he willing to roll the dice at this stage in his career?

One thing going for Sainz is the familiar faces at Sauber. Andreas Seidl, Sauber’s CEO, previously worked with Sainz at McLaren. James Key, Sauber’s technical director, is another old colleague from McLaren. These are two names Sainz has had success with in the past.

Albert Ramirez
Albert Ramirez
Albert Ramirez is a senior writer at F1Highlights.com. With a passion for motorsports, Albert brings a unique perspective to the world of Formula One. With over five years of experience as a sports reporter, he has honed his skills in capturing the essence of the sport.

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