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Nico Hulkenberg

Audi F1 opportunity a 'white piece of paper' - Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg has provided an insight into what his expectations are for his upcoming move to Audi, with the German joining Stake F1 for 2025.

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Nico Hulkenberg will leave Haas at the end of 2024 to join the Audi F1 project, something the German says is a "white piece of paper" in terms of expectations.

The 36-year-old signed on to a three-year deal which will see him first team up with Stake F1 before the Sauber entry transitions to the works Audi team for the 2026 season.

Whilst the German marque will be a new name on the grid, by taking over an existing team, the hope for Hulkenberg is that some of the difficulties new teams experience will be minimised.

"It's difficult to tell," he replied when asked by RacingNews365 what his expectations are for the first two or three years with the Hinwil-based squad. "It's really a white piece of paper.

"On one side, I think that's good - it's not a new team, but it's gonna be labelled a new team - all the 'know-how' and advantage the current teams have is wiped away a little bit, and it's more a level playing field for everyone.

"So, that offers a good opportunity to be competitive straight away, but expectations are always to be as successful as quickly as possible."

'It looked convincing even before'

Whilst the second half of Audi's driver line-up is not yet confirmed, in Hulkenberg, the team is getting a wealth of experience, and someone who is known for his input on understanding and getting the most out of the car - something the German feels attracted the team to him.

"I think they value my experience," he said, before adding: "Probably my judgement, my feeling for set up in the car, pushing the team on development."

On the other hand, Hulkenberg was drawn to Audi, in what he called a "big opportunity" for him. Having made his F1 debut in 2010, in over 200 race starts the 36-year-old has yet to finish on the podium. He is now the most experienced driver in F1 history without a trip to the rostrum on his CV.

"They obviously, like all teams here [in F1], have a plan," he replied when asked about progression and the targets the team has set for itself.

"Obviously, they have big ambitions. It's a huge project with ambitions. Racing for a manufacturer, there's always a lot of expectations, naturally. But yeah, they're pushing, like the top teams do too."

Audi will take 100 percent ownership of the Sauber entry come 2026, having previously purchased a minority stake in the team, with full control not originally part of the plane.

"It was their strategic decision - they felt that's what they need to move forward and to succeed in this project," Hulkenberg responded when the change in approach was brought up, before concluding: "For me, it looked convincing even before."

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look ahead at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The trio discuss last season's cancelled race at Imola, whether McLaren's Miami pace is genuine and if Mercedes teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli will make his debut before he turns 18.

Want to watch the podcast instead of just listening? Check it out here.

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