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Hulkenberg ‘very excited’ by Audi project as he sees opportunity for manufacturer to be competitive ‘straight away’

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 18: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas F1 looks on in the Paddock during

Nico Hulkenberg has opened up on his decision to leave Haas and make the move to Sauber for the 2025 season, ahead of the Swiss operation becoming Audi’s works team, describing it as an “interesting” and “very exciting” step.

In the latest driver market development of the year, it was announced shortly after the Chinese Grand Prix weekend that Hulkenberg is heading back to a Sauber squad he previously represented during the 2013 campaign.

READ MORE: Kick Sauber sign Nico Hulkenberg for 2025 ahead of Audi transformation

He will then be one of Audi’s two drivers as the German automotive giants enter F1 in 2026, when new regulations – to include power units featuring increased electrical power and the introduction 100% sustainable fuels – come into play.

As the F1 paddock reconvened at the Miami International Autodrome ahead of this weekend’s Sprint action, Hulkenberg explained how the deal came about and how much he is looking forward to his next chapter.

“It’s like normal,” he began. “Obviously at some point you start talking and, as we all know, it has been and still is a very dynamic, fluid driver market situation.

“Already I think there was interest last year, but obviously I’m here [at Haas]. But the interest still seemed to be there from their side, they were quite keen, and I think [there was] matched interest for the future. Going forward it’s a very exciting, interesting project.”

Indeed, Hulkenberg is cautiously optimistic about Audi’s chances of being a “competitive” force from their first season in the sport, given the major rule changes that will be implemented in just under two years’ time.

ANALYSIS: Why the Audi factor was too tempting for Hulkenberg to turn down as he signs move to Kick Sauber

“It’s really difficult to tell,” said the 36-year-old, when asked what he expects from Audi. “It’s really a white piece of paper [for 2026], and on one side I think that’s good.

“It’s not a new team but it’s going to be labelled a new team because probably all the know-how and advantage that current teams have, it’s wiped away a little bit, and it’s more a level playing field, [or] starting playing field for everyone.

“I think that offers a good opportunity to be competitive straight away, but expectations are always to be successful as quickly as possible. I have no numbers for you on that.”

SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 06: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari on

Haas gave Hulkenberg the chance to return to F1 full-time from the 2023 season

As for the chance to be involved in the year leading up to the rebrand, Hulkenberg added: “It buys us some time, getting to know each other. There are still some faces I know from 2013, but also a lot of new faces.

“It’s still going to be a Ferrari power unit [in the car for 2025], so that’s not going to be foreign to me, but obviously to get to know the team, the infrastructure there, and already try to help and steer certain things.”

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For now, Hulkenberg is “focused on what’s ahead” with Haas as he paid tribute to the team who gave him the chance to make his full-time F1 comeback in 2023 after three years on the sidelines that included only occasional stand-in appearances for Racing Point and Aston Martin.

Asked if there was anything Haas could have done to keep him onboard for a third term, Hulkenberg commented: “It’s one of the 10 teams on the grid, so for sure I was thinking about that too.

“I was speaking to Ayao [Komatsu, Team Principal] weeks and weeks ago and telling him, ‘Look, there’s quite a lot of movement on the driver market but one scenario is also I could imagine to stay’, so there was also talks here in parallel.”

Haas have yet to confirm who will take Hulkenberg’s seat for 2025.

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