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Audi share driver market update ahead of second seat decision

Audi has already signed one-half of its 2026 Formula 1 line-up but is in no rush to announce who will take on the other seat when it joins the grid in two years' time.

Audi CEO of Formula 1 operations Andreas Seidl has shared an update on the driver market after signing one-half of its 2026 line-up.

Last month, the squad confirmed it had reached an agreement with Nico Hulkenberg, who will join Stake F1 next year ahead of its transition to Audi in 2026.

Audi will join as a works team and is currently constructing its own power unit ahead of its arrival on the grid.

With Hulkenberg's experience and strong pace on offer, Seidl asserted he was an obvious choice for the team.

“It is his consistently convincing speed,” Seidl told F1.com. “For sure Nico with all his experience and his personality brings a lot to the table for us as the future Audi works team – on track and off track.

“And he will be a very important building block in this transformation we are in as a team, but ultimately all that matters is his speed.

“It is simply impressive how he consistently pulls it off in qualifying and races at each single race weekend. That’s why we wanted to secure him and had no reason to wait any longer.

“Nico as well was very keen to join our exciting project and be part of the Audi journey entering F1.”

Talks with current drivers

Several drivers have been linked to the second seat at the team, including out-going Ferrari man Carlos Sainz who will be replaced by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton next year.

Seidl also confirmed it is in discussions with the current holders of the Stake F1 seats but outlined it is in no rush to make a decision.

“We are talking with Valtteri [Bottas] and Zhou [Guanyu] and keep monitoring their performance,” he said.

“We are grateful for what they have done and are still doing for Kick Sauber. At the same time, we are out in the market, to have all options ready once we want to make a decision later in the year.

“The driver market is difficult to predict at the moment. Having Nico nailed down, there is no specific rush to fix the second seat. 

“We prefer to monitor the performance of our drivers and the others we are looking – and then make the best decision.”

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