Nico Hulkenberg admits interest in “attractive” Audi F1 project

Nico Hulkenberg believes Audi could become an attractive option when they join the 2026 grid, revealing connections with the German manufacturer. The 36-year-old also outlines his aspirations to continue in F1 for several years.

Having enjoyed a near decade-long F1 stint with Williams, Sauber, Force India and then Renault, Hulkenberg was forced to watch on the sidelines from 2020-2022.

As a reserve driver, the German driver had few opportunities to showcase his talents during this period. However, cameo appearances in Silverstone, the Nurburgring and Sakhir were reminders of his skill.

Haas decided to sign the LeMans winner at the end of last season, showing faith in Hulkenberg’s track record.

In the fourteen race weekends since then, Guenther Steiner’s team owe the majority of their points in 2023 to their new signing.

Even with a frustratingly uncompetitive car on race day, Hulkenberg has secured nine points this season. At least so far, it has been enough to put Haas 8th in the standings.

Despite his recently announced contract extension with the American outfit, the 36-year-old speaks openly about his perceptions of Audi joining the F1 grid.

“It’s definitely one of the very attractive projects right now, a new brand coming into Formula 1,” he said on ‘Beyond The Grid’.

“A German manufacturer as well, people that I’ve worked with and done really well before. Yeah, it all sounds really good on paper.

“Obviously, I still need to put in the work, keep [producing] convincing drives to maybe have a shot there. 

“But only time will tell.”

JEDDAH STREET CIRCUIT, SAUDI ARABIA – MARCH 17: Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team during the Saudi Arabian GP at Jeddah Street Circuit on Friday March 17, 2023 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

Although not as extreme an example as Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton, the #27 is still an impressive case study in longevity.

This is particularly impressive for Hulkenberg, given his three-year absence from a full-time Formula 1 contract. Adaptation is clearly not a problem for the seasoned veteran.

Provided this level of performance persists, it is not unreasonable that a team like Audi could make an approach.

After all, Volkswagen’s CEO has outlined that signing a German driver would be a preference to begin the team’s F1 journey.

Given Hulkenberg is the only German currently on the grid, he could become a valuable asset during contract negotiations in 2025/26.

It must be stressed that all of these possibilities are hypothetical. Nothing concrete suggests the status quo will change. With that said, Haas is demonstrating a clear ceiling – which might prompt its drivers to look at other options.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang