Sauber Now Eyeing Three Current F1 Drivers Ahead of Audi Takeover in 2026

Sauber is meticulously gearing up to transform into the works Audi team by 2026. The team, formerly recognized as Alfa Romeo in the current year, is poised for another name change ahead of the 2024 season. This shift is part of the grand plan for the team to bear the iconic four rings synonymous with the German automotive giant on the Formula 1 grid.

As the next major regulations overhaul looms in F1, Sauber’s transition to an Audi works team includes a significant expansion of their role to that of a power unit supplier. This move positions them in direct competition with established names such as Honda, Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, and potentially General Motors in the future. The paddock is abuzz with excitement as Formula 1 welcomes this automotive industry giant.

However, some enthusiasts might find it disappointing that instead of establishing a brand-new team, Audi is taking the reins of an existing one. Currently, Sauber fields Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas as their drivers. Yet, with contracts expiring for both by the end of 2024, the driver lineup may undergo substantial changes in tandem with Audi’s entry into the team.

Journalist Edd Straw, speaking on The Race F1 Podcast, shed light on the evolving landscape: “They’ve got money coming in, they’ve got the Audi gear up. There’s lots of drivers they’re being linked with. People like Carlos Sainz, Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon, they want to upgrade their driver line-up. So, it’s very difficult again to see how [Theo] Pourchaire becomes a part of that landscape.”

The potential roster shakeup opens doors to speculation about the drivers Sauber may consider when Audi assumes control. Among the names in the mix, Carlos Sainz emerges as a notable prospect, especially with murmurs suggesting uncertainty about his future with Ferrari beyond the current season. Sainz’s track record, including preventing a complete Red Bull domination in 2023, makes him an attractive proposition.

Alex Albon, having proven his worth and deserving of a faster car than his current Williams, stands as another intriguing option for Sauber. The move to Audi’s works team might be viewed as a gamble, but the allure of an enhanced performance vehicle could be a tempting proposition for the talented driver.

Esteban Ocon, a consistent midfield contender throughout his Formula 1 career, remains in the mix as well. The next 12 months may prove pivotal in determining whether Ocon sees Alpine as a long-term fit and if the team reciprocates this sentiment.

As Sauber prepares for the momentous entry of Audi into Formula 1, the team finds itself at a crossroads with numerous driver options on the table. The impending partnership choice promises to be a fascinating development in the ever-evolving narrative of Formula 1.