Nico Hulkenberg is not yet putting his hand up for a works Audi seat.
At the end of this year, the Swiss team Sauber’s naming rights deal with Alfa Romeo will end – as the 75 percent buyout by Volkswagen brand Audi ramps up in time for 2026.
Currently, the only German driver on the grid is returning F1 veteran Hulkenberg, 35.
He admits the country’s formerly thriving racing and automotive industry is now a shadow of its former self.
“We were once a car nation,” Hulkenberg told Suddeutsche Zeitung. “Now the subject is talked about more and more badly.
“Formula 1 is trying to adapt, for example with its strategy of becoming climate-neutral by 2030,” he added. “But at the same time, it’s going where there is an appetite – where people want to see and have F1.”
And, at the moment, that is definitely not Germany – but Audi has at least indicated that it wants a German driver for its works F1 team in 2026.
By then, Hulkenberg will be 38 – the same age as Lewis Hamilton is today. Better still, the new Sauber CEO is Andreas Seidl, for whom Hulkenberg won the Le Mans 24 hours with Porsche.
When asked if he’s therefore dreaming about an Audi seat in Formula 1, Hulkenberg told Sport1 in Bahrain: “First of all, it’s cool that Audi is another really big manufacturer coming into Formula 1.
“But I’m not concerned with the distant future. I’m thinking of the present and it’s called Haas. I want to be successful with Haas.
“Every driver should aim to make the team they are driving for better,” the German added. “I don’t have a big plan for the future.
“It is important to perform in the present and then you can look beyond that afterwards.”