Nico Hülkenberg signed as first driver for Audi F1 team

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Formula 1 veteran Nico Hülkenberg will drive for Audi when the automaker enters the sport in 2026 with its own team and power unit.

The German racing driver is currently with Haas but will switch to Sauber next season, the team that will become Audi’s factory team starting with the 2026 season. Audi in March announced it plans to buy 100% of the Swiss team.

Audi is still on the look out for a second driver, with current Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz rumored to be one of the favorites of Audi team boss Andreas Seidl. Sainz will be replaced at Ferrari next season by current Mercedes-Benz AMG driver Lewis Hamilton.

Sauber’s current drivers are Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, though neither is thought to be an option for the Audi team.

Nico Hülkenberg

Replacements for Hülkenberg and Hamilton at their respective current teams are yet to be announced.

Audi has established the new company Audi Formula Racing based in Germany to oversee the F1 program. Having an experienced driver like Hülkenberg will be vital in getting the new team up to speed.

Hülkenberg first joined F1 in 2010 with Williams. He joined Force India a year later and then drove for Sauber for a single year in 2013 before returning to Force India. He served as a reserve for the team from 2020 when it became Racing Point and later Aston Martin, and in 2023 he signed up with current team Haas. He also drove for Porsche in the 2015 World Endurance Championship, where he worked under Seidl and managed overall win at the 2024 Hours of Le Mans.

Though he’s failed to win any F1 races, Hülkenberg has delivered consistently as one of the top drivers of the backmarker teams. He’s also impressed so far in the current season, having scored points in three of the first five races.

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