Audi has denied that early contract talks with Mick Schumacher might already be taking place.
In recent days, it was suggested that Volkswagen-owned Audi intends to put a German driver at the wheel once its takeover of Sauber is complete ahead of 2026.
The only active German driver at present is 35-year-old Hulkenberg, who is returning to Formula 1 in 2023 after a three-year break.
“First of all, it’s cool that Audi is another really big manufacturer coming into Formula 1,” he said in Bahrain.
“But I’m not concerned with the distant future. I’m thinking of the present and it’s called Haas.”
But another option for Audi would be Mick Schumacher, the 23-year-old German who was replaced at Haas for this year by Hulkenberg.
He is now Mercedes’ official reserve driver.
“Of course, German drivers are just as attractive to us as they are to the top management of the parent company,” Markus Duesmann, chairman of the Audi board, said.
“But it’s not a requirement for us,” he told Der Spiegel. “We are open to drivers of all nationalities and languages.”
Duesmann suggested that Audi has bigger problems to solve before putting serious thought into the 2026 driver lineup.
“We are currently talking to many decision-makers, drivers and team bosses,” he revealed.
“There have been no concrete talks with Mick Schumacher regarding a contract. That would also be much too early.”
Duesmann insisted, however, that Audi could not be more serious about its F1 project.
“We aren’t doing Formula 1 for fun,” he said, “we want to show what we can do there.
“We’ve done everything we can to win in every racing series we’ve been involved in, and so far it has always succeeded. The Olympic thought of just wanting to be there doesn’t work for us.
“We are approaching Formula 1 as a long-term commitment. The teams that are there already have a head start, some of them having done great work over decades.
“That’s why we’ll need two or three years to be able to race at the front.”