Nico Hulkenberg joins Sauber ahead of Audi takeover: Haas line up exciting replacement

The 36-year-old driver has signed a "multi-year contract" which will see him become Audi's first F1 driver in 2026.

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Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg will leave the team at the end of the 2024 Formula 1 campaign and will join Sauber for the 2025 F1 season.

Hulkenberg‘s contract was due to expire at the end of the year and, despite his impressive performance in the opening five races with the American outfit, he has opted for a new challenge with Sauber as they prepare for a new era in 2026 with Audi.

The 36-year-old, who has never finished in the podium in over 200 race starts, has signed a multi-year contract to return to the team where he raced back in 2013. As of 2026, Sauber will run under the Audi name in time for the new F1 regulations to be introduced.

“The prospect of competing for Audi is something very special,” Hulkenberg said after the announcement that he will join Sauber. “When a German manufacturer enters Formula 1 with such determination, it is a unique opportunity. To represent the factory team of such a car brand with a power unit made in Germany is a great honour for me.”

Hulkenberg will be reuniting with his former boss Andreas Seidl, the ex-McLaren team principal who worked with him during his time racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Together, they won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2015 on his debut for Porsche, and Seidl expressed his delight at capturing the experienced racer.

“The signing of Nico is the next milestone for Audi’s Formula 1 project. With his speed, his experience and his dedicated teamwork, he will make an important contribution to Audi’s entry in 2026 as early as next year,” Seidl, now CEO of the future Audi F1 team, said.

Haas boss: Hulkenberg replacement identified

In a team statement, Haas boss Ayao Komatsu paid tribute to Hulkenberg for his efforts as a “great team player” after securing three top-10 finishes this year.

But the reality of his exit is that it was always on the cards, as Ferrari look to place their junior driver Oliver Bearman in a seat for 2025.

Oliver Bearman during 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Oliver Bearman could replace Hulkenberg at Haas / Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Bearman, 18, left the F1 paddock in awe when he finished seventh at the Saudi Arabian GP on his debut for the Scuderia whilst filling in for Carlos Sainz, boosting his hopes of securing a drive.

As one of their engine customers, it appears likely that Haas will soon confirm Bearman as Kevin Magnussen’s team-mate, although an official announcement is yet to be made.

As for Hulkenberg, he could soon be joined at Audi by Sainz. The Spaniard has received a three-year contract offer from the German team as he weighs up his future ahead of leaving Ferrari at the end of the season, with links to Red Bull and Mercedes too.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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