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Bottas targets early move on Audi F1 2026 drive

Valtteri Bottas wants to begin contract discussions with Audi in the early part of the new season as he bids to secure his Formula 1 future for 2026 and beyond.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo F1 Team

Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Audi is in the process of taking over Bottas’s current employer Sauber ahead of its long-awaited grand prix return in two years’ time. Until then, the Swiss squad will run under the Stake F1 Team moniker. 

Bottas, who moved from Mercedes to Sauber for 2022, is entering the final year of his contract. The team retained the 10-time GP winner for 2024 by activating a one-year extension clause. 

Speaking exclusively to Autosport, Bottas said he believes that if he agrees to another deal with Sauber for 2025, he will very likely have already earned an Audi seat for the year after. 

Discussing his future in F1, the Finn - who has launched his own coffee roaster and gin since leaving one major German road car manufacturer - said: “F1 is the number one thing for me.  

“I'm still hungry to get back on the podium eventually. The Audi project could be the next opportunity.” 

Bottas added that, so far, he had not held formal talks with Audi management over securing a seat for 2026 but having those discussions was a priority for the early part of 2024. 

He continued: “From my understanding, they're going to make decisions of the years ahead early [this] year. So not yet. I'm going to have those discussions in the first quarter of [this] year.” 

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43

Should talks with Audi break down, Bottas, who will turn 37 in 2026, says he will seek to remain in F1 and will open negotiations with other teams.  

However, remaining at Hinwil in time for Audi’s full takeover was currently his “number one preference”. 

Asked if Bottas could see himself shopping around if Audi looked elsewhere, he replied: “I would, of course. I'm just being really honest here.  

“Being part of Audi would be my number one priority and preference. But if for some reason not, then absolutely I would talk to [other teams].  

“I want to be around because I feel like I still have some unfinished things in this sport.”

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