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Valtteri Bottas

Bottas left surprised by Audi F1 driver announcement

Audi confirmed last week that Nico Hulkenberg has penned a multi-year contract with the team and be part of its line-up when it joins the grid in 2026.

Bottas Miami
To news overview © XPBimages

Valtteri Bottas has admitted surprise over the timing of Audi's announcement that it has signed Nico Hulkenberg to its team.

Hulkenberg will join the Sauber-run operation that currently runs under the Stake F1 moniker in 2025 ahead of Audi's complete takeover for 2026.

The signing confirmed that at least one of its current drivers in Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will depart the team at the end of the current season.

While Bottas had his eyebrows raised over the early announcement, he asserted that Hulkenberg's signature “makes sense” for the German manufacturer.

“Of course, the timing is quite early and a little bit surprising, but the driver market is starting to move, obviously, and it also kind of makes sense,” Bottas told media including RacingNews365.

“He's German, and Audi has made it pretty clear that they want a German driver, so it's all good. Let's see what happens next.”

Bottas talking to 'multiple teams'

Bottas' team-mate Zhou also admitted surprise over the confirmation that Audi had signed Hulkenberg.

Bottas has highlighted on several occasions that his priority is to remain at Stake next year and be part of Audi's F1 programme long-term.

He also did not rule out the prospect of returning to Mercedes to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

When asked what's next in store for him after Audi confirmed one-half of its driver line-up, Bottas asserted he was talking to multiple teams over a seat for next year

“I don't know, obviously speaking to multiple teams, some talks have advanced more than the others. So we'll see.”

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