Nico Hulkenberg expands on his signing with Sauber-Audi from F1 2025, as Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas adds their views.

While it didn’t come as a surprise per se but the timing was still when Audi announced Hulkenberg as their first driver signing ahead of its F1 entry in 2026. In fact, the German will join Sauber in 2025 for a headstart to gel himself with the outfit.

He is no stranger to the Swiss team since he did spend a year back in 2013. Who he will replace from among Bottas and Zhou Guanyu is unclear but there could be a chance that both are out considering the other names flying around at the moment.

For Hulkenberg, not just his experience but his nationality did come into play being a German driver. His relation with Andreas Seidl also was a factor since they know each other from their success in WEC when they won Le Mans 24 Hours driving a Porsche.

In the talks, Hulkenberg revealed how they discussed about a potential McLaren drive but it didn’t happen and now they have the chance to be together at Audi. He reflected on his previous time with Sauber, while added on securing a factory drive after all this while.

He adds on the expectations now and how Haas wanted him to stay back. The move was surprising for his current teammate Magnussen and Bottas as well, who noted about his own situation and the time he has spent so far with Hulkenberg.

Audi deal –

Hulkenberg: “It just happened. I don’t know how it actually happened (laughs). I mean, like normal, obviously, you know, at some point you start talking and obviously, as we all know, it has been, and still is a very dynamic, fluid driver market situation. And we were already talking, you know, and there was interest last year. Obviously, I’m here and there was no opportunity. But the interest still seemed to be there from their side. And Audi were, you know, quite keen, and we matched interests for the future. Going forward it’s very exciting, interesting project. And hence the early agreement.

“Obviously, it’s a year of transition. It buys us some time getting to know each other. Still some faces I know from 2013, but also a lot of new faces. Still going to be a Ferrari power unit. So that’s not going to be foreign to me. But obviously, you have to get to know the team, the infrastructure there, and then, you know, already try to help and steer certain things. But that’s then. Now obviously, I’m still pretty much in the season and focused on what’s ahead.”

Getting a big factory drive –

Hulkenberg: “For me, I think it’s a fact. But it’s secondary. And that’s a side effect. It’s just how it is. It’s not that I was specifically looking for that. I think, as a driver, you just always look for what you believe is the best sporting package and opportunity for you in the future. And for me, that’s the one. To be honest, I would say happiness. Happy and it’s reward to the good work, that I and my team have put in. It’s credit to the good work over the last year and a half since the comeback. I feel… of course, I’ve done the odd mistake, but on balance the performance was pretty… was good, was there.

“And it’s always convincing, and [it’s] your best argument. So, I’m just happy that it is the way it is. But I also know, how much I have invested and worked for it. But just in a happy and good headspace now since the comeback compared to, let’s say, the end of 2019. So, just embracing it. Probably living through it more consciously, enjoying it more also, the bad days as well as the good days. So just feels good.”

Time with Sauber before –

Hulkenberg: “Only stayed there for a year. It was obviously a very different set of circumstances. everything was fine with the team. It was only with one person that it was difficult. And that was the team principal, Monisha at the time, which was a bit difficult and tricky situation, but everything else was fine. Every team I worked with and raced for I never had problems with the team, with the mechanics, with the engineers. I’ve always enjoyed working with all the team members and working as a force, as a team pushing for performance. So obviously now that’s quite different from back then.”

Role of Andreas Seidl –

Hulkenberg: “Probably yes. Andreas Seidl is also the driving factor there. One of the deciders. One of the top key people in the management at Audi. So, of course, it came through him. And he’s a very direct and straightforward guy with me. I remember 2020 when it was COVID before the season started, I was not sure what I wanted to do. I remember phoning Andreas Seidl up. He was at McLaren obviously at the time – I was like, ‘Andy, how is it looking? Is there may be a chance for me?’ And he was like, straight, ‘No, don’t even get your hopes up. It’s not going to happen.’ And you know, this time around, two years later, it was very different and Andreas was very keen to sign and to have me in the team.”

Audi’s commitment and your experience, expectations –

Hulkenberg: “Like all the teams here, they have a plan. Obviously, they have big ambitions. It’s a huge project with huge ambitions. Racing for a manufacturer, there’s always a lot of expectations, naturally. But yeah, I mean, they’re pushing, like the top teams do too. These are technicalities. In the end, that was what it was. They’re going to be 100% owners, are or going to be, so that is what it is.

“But I think it was their strategic decision, you know, that they felt that’s what they need to move forward and to succeed in this project. For me, it looked convincing even before. As for taking me, they value my experience. Probably, my judgment, my feelings for setup, you know, in the car, finding that, or pushing the team on development. Of course, you know, it’s also a big… big, big opportunity for me, but also a lot of obviously expectations and a huge job to deliver now.”

“As for expectations, really difficult to tell, like you say. It’s really white piece of paper. And on one side, it’s not a new team, but it’s going to be labelled a new team, because, very probably the know-how and advantage that current teams have is wiped away a little bit and it’s more a level playing field [in 2026], starting playing field for everyone. So, that offers a good opportunity to be competitive straightaway, but expectations are always you need to be as successful as quickly as possible. I have no numbers for you on that.”

Haas was never a go –

Hulkenberg: “Like you said, comparison is not – maybe the best one – direct, but it’s one of the ten teams on the grid. So… No, for sure, I was thinking about that, too. And I was speaking to Ayao weeks and weeks ago, and telling him, ‘Look, you know, there is quite a lot of movement on the driver market. But one scenario is also I could imagine to stay.’ So there was also talks here in parallel, for sure.”

Surprise with Hulkenberg’s move –

Magnussen: “Honestly, I thought it would be me and Nico again next year, but I thought that would be likely. Obviously, he has taken the opportunity with Sauber and Audi. I wish him all the best with that. We will continue focusing and enjoying this year. Continuing the progress that we’ve made as a team for this year, and hopefully building on that beyond this year as well.”

Bottas: “Of course, the timing is quite early and a little bit surprising, but the driver market is starting to move, obviously, and it also kind of makes sense. He’s German, and Audi has made it pretty clear that they want a German driver, so it’s all good. Let’s see what happens next.”

Future course, talks –

Magnussen: “Maybe. It’s still a very open market, you know, lots of seats available, lots of drivers available. Not like concrete talks yet [with Haas]. When you’re part of the team, you’re talking all the time, I think there’s much focus on the season and things. I still feel like there’s so much unfinished business here. I feel like it’s always been, I’ve been here for many years now. There’s always been like, some potential that we haven’t seemed to really exploit. And I feel like now, we are building a better foundation to go and exploit that potential. I feel we have some very talented people in the house.

“And I think we’ve had that since day one. You know, many people didn’t give, give us a lot of credit in the beginning, because they thought we were just copying Ferrari, but we’ve shown quite a few times that we don’t just copy, we are doing our thing. And I think this year, we’re copying someone else other than Ferrari, we are copying Red Bull, so is everyone else, I think there’s a lot of talent here and I think there’s some potential that that I’d like to see fulfilled.”

Bottas: “I don’t know, obviously speaking to multiple teams, some talks have advanced more than the others. So we’ll see.”

Rivalry with Hulkenberg –

Magnussen: “Well, it’s been great having Nico as a team-mate last year and this year again. I don’t think you’re wrong. I actually feel like we are working quite well as a team. It’s competitive, but it’s helped me. It’s not like we’re getting in each other’s way. It can be very unhealthy in F1 sometimes, and we’re two very grown up drivers and quite sensible. Both. Hopefully if I continue with the team and it’s going to be a new team-mate, hopefully it will be as good with the next guy.”

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