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Audi cautiously optimistic in recent F1 project update

Audi will enter F1 as a factory team in 2026, taking over the Sauber entry currently run by Stake F1. Having penned Nico Hulkenberg to a multi-year deal, CEO of Audi's F1 operations Andreas Seidl says the team developing well, but is still tempering expectations.

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Audi F1 operation's CEO Andreas Seidl has spoken about how the project is developing, as well as sharing his thoughts about Stake F1 and its most recent signing, Nico Hulkenberg.

The German marque will take over Sauber's F1 entry for the 2026 season, replacing Stake as the championship ushers in a new chassis and power unit era.

With Hulkenberg having already been announced as its first driver, Audi's F1 team is starting to take shape. However, Seidl has cautioned against expecting too much, too soon from F1's newest entrant.

"We should not fool ourselves," Seidl told Auto, Motor und Sport, adding: "It is clear that the current engine manufacturers have an advantage.

"It is not only about technical details, but also about operational processes. However, we managed to force enough changes for the engine in the negotiations with the FIA. This so that the current manufacturers also have to develop a lot of new things."

Seidl: 'I am confident we will soon be on equal footing'

Nevertheless, the 48-year-old is confident in the project's ability to catch up to the opposition, with the German engineer expecting the team to catch up to its rivals.

"Audi's broad drivetrain development knowledge, combined with the expertise of new staff from Formula 1, should help to make up for the lack of experience as quickly as possible," he said.

"Partly because of the euphoria, I am confident that we will soon be on equal footing and will be able to command advantages in the future with innovative ideas."

When assessing the current situation at Stake, Seidl sees reason to be optimistic, highlighting the fine margins seen in modern-day F1 and a closing gap to the front-runners.

"We are one second faster if you compare it to the old car," he explained, before addressing the performance delta seen at the Chinese Grand Prix: "However, the differences are smaller than ever. In China, Valtteri Bottas was only one percent behind Max Verstappen's lap time, and if we exclude Red Bull, it was only just over half a percent."

Meanwhile, Seidl is also buoyed by the recent signing of Hulkenberg, a driver who will be in place for the transitional season in 2025. This will allow the F1 veteran to have a direct impact on development for the all-new regulations the following year.

"It is essential for us to have the best possible driver duo on the grid and it also makes sense for them to be in the car in 2025 to support the project from the beginning," Seidl contended.

"The drivers can also help us when it comes to motivation and development. That's why Nico is a great choice. There is no doubt that he is fast and with his experience, teamwork and technical understanding he has exactly what we need."

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