Audi Could Have Two Obvious Driver Options Ahead Of F1 Entry

Small 35080 AudisignificantlyexpandsitscommitmenttoFormula1


With Audi previously announcing their plans to enter the world of Formula 1 racing from the 2026 season onwards, the car giants plans to join the sport continue at pace, but with two years left on their planning clock before they need to be absolutely grid ready, there are clearly plenty of decisions that still need to be made, and plenty of further progress required before they will be, at least semi confident, of making the more instant impact they will be hoping for in year one.

Two of those decisions will naturally focus on their top two choices of drivers to launch their new business endeavour, and understandably whilst some of the more high profile and calibre drivers would be out of reach, both financially and also, to just put it simply, Audi at this level are a completely unknown quality - they are the proverbial role on a roulette wheel at an online casino in the United Kingdom. Their introduction to the sport is a complete 50/50 right now, and their first season will be a genuine red or black and basically a roll of the dice with no guarantees.

That challenge, and the element of the unknown would be quite an exciting risk for a number of drivers who want to make an impression, as if Audi hit the ground running, they would see their own stock more quickly rise in the racing world just purely based on the more speedy impact and headlines they would create.

Current Sauber drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, would likely be more than willing to throw their own hats into the ring once again as they look at their own changing futures, but at this stage there is absolutely no guarantee that Audi would want to keep them on.

34 year old Bottas, undoubtedly has the greatest chance out of the two of being retained, particularly as he is already under contract at the existing outfit until the end of the 2025 race season, so he will naturally remain more in mind. Zhou on the other hand, finds himself out of contract at the end of this year, and at least as of yet, there do not appear to be many signs of his deal being extended for another term. Doubts were raised about the future of the Chinese racer towards the end of last season, and there was a pretty significant period of delay when it came to confirmation of his contract for 2024.

Looking at it from a slightly different direction, there is in fact, a very good argument that can be made for Audi wanting to enter truly on their own terms, and that would mean a fresh start with new faces in the driving seat from the get go.

And a host of drivers have already been linked with Audi's new project, but that was always going to be the case when it came to the press and the Formula 1 rumour mill, but if you dig down into the details, and look more across the board, there are potentially two very obvious, and reasonably realistic, options that many fans of the sport would assume, at least, feature on their provisional and potential driver shortlist - even if they are still two years out from needing them.

The first has repeatedly been linked with Audi anyway, and those rumours seem to be refusing to go away - and we are talking about Spaniard Carlos Sainz. The 29 year old son of the same named Senior, currently races for Scuderia Ferrari, and his existing contract is also set to expire at the end of the 2024 campaign. Talks have been held with Ferrari over a new deal, but recent reports suggest those negotiations have 'slowed', and whilst the speculation still has him as remaining with Ferarri for 2025, it is very clear right now that he will continue to be a mainstay on the rumour mill when it comes to discussions about the 2025 silly season.

The slowing of the negotiation seems to be down to a disagreement on the kind of contract length the only non-Red Bull winning driver in 2023 wants, compared with what Ferrari are prepared to offer. But that is obviously not insurmountable.

The two time Grand Prix winner, five time polesitter and 18 time podium finisher, well, it is clear why it would be a signal of the German brand's ambitions if they could make a statement signing like that - they could also offer the possibility of him reuniting with former McLaren gaffer Andreas Seidl, and obviously his father has ties to Audi - taking a historic first win last weekend at the Dakar Rally, and he has previously admitted they have held talks about a move to Audi.

Alex Albon is the other obvious and in demand potential candidate following an impressive few years at Williams. The rumour mill suggests he is the first option for Ferrari to replace Sainz if he eventually leaves for Audi, but again it would be quite a coup for the Germans if they were to also capture him and add him as a team mate.

It is certainly set to be an interesting couple of years as Audi completely firm their plans up.
 

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