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Audi will not budge on long-term F1 driver dedication

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With solely seats at Components 1’s lower-end outfits up for grabs, the battle between drivers wanting flexibility and groups craving a long-term dedication is coming to the fore.

Carlos Sainz stays the blocker that holds up your complete market, with a call between Sauber/Audi and Williams difficult by an eleventh-hour lunge by Alpine advisor Flavio Briatore. That prompted Sainz to ask for a delay, which has not gone down notably effectively at Williams.

The Spaniard is available in the market with fellow F1 race winners Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas, who’re all vying for the open seats at Audi, Williams, Alpine and Haas. Bottas’ team-mate Zhou Guanyu can also be hopeful Sainz’s resolution may open up a slot for him, though he seems to be to be one driver on the bubble proper now.

Sainz’s dithering is brought on by not one of the three choices trying probably the most engaging coming from a race-winning seat at Ferrari and, with him wanting flexibility so he can nonetheless change groups as soon as it turns into clear who has hit the goal with the 2026 laws, a flexibility that almost all big-name drivers have little doubt baked into their contracts.

However with Audi, Williams and Alpine all in search of loyalty and for a long-term dedication as they flip round their groups’ fortunes, drivers who’re keen to enroll in the lengthy haul are beginning to change into extra engaging than Sainz.

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For Audi that long-term partnership is much more vital, because it is aware of it may not hit the bottom working with its work energy items from the beginning of the 2026 laws, so it wants a affected person mindset from whoever joins Nico Hulkenberg.

“If it was a simple state of affairs for everyone, we’d have closed the drivers’ market already in February,” Sauber group consultant Alessandro Alunni Bravi mentioned.

Picture by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“From the motive force aspect, everybody want to see what occurs in 2026, and the groups need to safe the steadiness in the long run and never change the drivers.

“We’ve got all the time mentioned we need to begin in 2025 with the motive force line-up that would be the Audi works manufacturing unit group drivers line-up. We do not need to change after one yr, it is vital for us.

“We placed on the desk who we’re, the place we need to be and what we’re doing to succeed in this goal. After all, there’s a journey to be achieved collectively.

“We should be blissful to do that journey, together with ups and downs, particularly within the first interval, however nobody ought to underestimate the influence of Audi may have in Components 1 in 2026.”

For somebody like Bottas, who’s eager to safe his long-term future as quickly as attainable, that widespread floor may assist him safe a seat at Audi or elsewhere, even when he hasn’t been the primary identify on the checklist to fill any of the remaining seats.

“I hope so,” he mentioned. “I’ve made certain within the talks that I would like clear objectives for the years forward, a transparent mission that I will be a part of and work for it collectively.

“I am able to commit and I’ve received my priorities so as. I hope that places me in a robust place.”



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