As reported by Motorsport.com, Audi’s sights are firmly fixed on Nico Hulkenberg, the sole German racer on the current F1 grid. Hulkenberg, currently driving for Haas, has made a remarkable return to Formula 1 in 2023. His impressive performance behind the wheel of the VF-23, which included a memorable P2 qualification in Canada, has earned him the designation of Audi’s “priority” signing.
But Audi’s interest doesn’t end with Hulkenberg. Esteban Ocon, a driver for the Alpine team, is also on their wishlist. Alpine’s all-French driver lineup, which pairs Ocon with Pierre Gasly, could see some disruption if Audi’s plans come to fruition.
Alpine, in the midst of the 2023 F1 campaign, is currently facing challenges. Their progress has stalled, and they find themselves in P6 in the Constructors’ Championship. On the other hand, Haas, Hulkenberg’s current team, introduced a significant upgrade package inspired by the “Red Bull concept” route during the US Grand Prix, which has failed to deliver the expected results.
With more than two seasons of action to go before Audi officially hits the Formula 1 track, there is still ample time for speculation and anticipation regarding the drivers that will represent the prestigious brand. It’s no surprise that Audi’s entry into the series has generated significant buzz and attention, given their reputation for engineering excellence and a strong motorsport heritage.
While Hulkenberg remains the frontrunner for the first seat at Audi, Ocon is also under consideration for the second seat. According to insiders, Ocon might be the one who secures the coveted spot. This potential pairing has added excitement to the already much-anticipated Audi-Sauber venture in Formula 1.
But there’s more to the story. Audi’s partnership with Sauber comes at a time when the Sauber-Alfa Romeo alliance is set to conclude at the end of the 2023 F1 season. This leaves Sauber with two seasons to prepare for their Audi era, with the aim of having Hulkenberg and Ocon behind the wheel as early as the 2025 season.
In the background, extensive work is underway to prepare Audi and Sauber for their F1 adventure. Sauber, in particular, is in the process of expanding its workforce from 550 to a reported target of 800. Meanwhile, Audi’s power unit project is gaining momentum, guided by the input of former Red Bull test driver Neel Jani.
As Formula 1 fans eagerly await Audi’s arrival on the grid, the anticipation of witnessing Hulkenberg, Ocon, or perhaps both, in action for the prestigious automaker adds an extra layer of excitement to the future of Formula 1. The synergy between Audi’s engineering prowess and Sauber’s racing heritage promises to be a compelling addition to the world of motorsport. It’s a partnership that could reshape the Formula 1 landscape, and fans around the world are watching with bated breath as the countdown to 2026 begins.