Nico Hulkenberg has refused to rule out a potential future switch to Audi, when the German manufacturer enter Formula 1 in 2026.
Audi will enter the sport as a powertrain supplier for Sauber, who by 2026, they’ll have a 75 per cent stake in.
As a result, Sauber will become an Audi works team when the new power unit regulations are introduced, something which will open up two more factory seats on the grid.
Hulkenberg is currently contracted to Haas until the end of 2024, meaning he’d likely need to try and get a deal for 2025 with the Americans to be considered by Audi in 2026.
Racing for a German manufacturer would likely be a hugely proud moment for Hulkenberg, especially as he’s reaching the latter stages of his F1 career.
After being on the sidelines for three years, he proved in 2023 after replacing Mick Schumacher that he certainly still has what it takes to compete for points, whilst he was also a star over one-lap throughout the recently completed campaign.
There’s no doubting that the 36-year-old would’ve wanted more than just nine points this year, with Kevin Magnussen’s six points having left Haas at the foot of the Constructors’ Championship.
Similarly, to Aston Martin, Haas appeared to become weaker the more they upgraded their car, leaving the side with a conundrum for 2024.
Hulkenberg wasn’t afraid of criticising the team’s late-season upgrade, where they basically introduced a B-spec car.
Tyre wear was Haas’ huge issue in 2023, as they tended to fire up their tyres too quickly, resulting in them overheating.
Haas have significant work to do in order to please Hulkenberg and Magnussen, with both drivers likely to consider their options if the side’s 2024 car is just as weak on a Sunday.
For now, Hulkenberg isn’t ruling out anything, although his current focus is on seeing how 2024 goes and whether Haas can give him a “competitive car”.
“Only time will tell,” Hulkenberg told Auto Motor und Sport, when asked if he’d consider a switch to Audi at the end of his Haas deal.
“Let’s see how the season goes next year. Do we have a competitive car? Which people are recommended for which tasks?
“I can’t answer with confidence now. We probably have to position ourselves a little differently internally so that the same thing doesn’t happen again [at Haas].”