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Hulkenberg set for Audi switch after Haas departure revealed

Nico Hulkenberg is set to join Audi in Formula 1 after his current Haas team revealed he is leaving the American-owned squad at the end of this season for Sauber.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

The German had emerged as one of the key targets for Audi, which is gearing up with its current Sauber partner for its official F1 entry as a works team from 2026.

Autosport revealed earlier this week that Audi had been eager to make an early move on getting its driver plans in place, with a May deadline set down for the drivers it was talking to.

Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz have been on its shortlist as priority targets, with the plan being for them to join the Sauber squad next year prior to its rebranding as Audi for the following campaign.

And although it is understood that Sainz is still evaluating other options – having been linked with potential seats at Red Bull and Mercedes – Hulkenberg is believed to have committed to an Audi future.

While there has been no official confirmation from Audi about the plans, Hulkenberg’s current Haas squad announced on Friday morning that the German would be departing at the end of this campaign.

An announcement regarding his move to Sauber is expected imminently.

Team principal Ayao Komatsu said: “I'd like to extend my thanks to Nico for his contributions to the team. In the time that he's been here with us. He has been a great team player and someone we very much enjoy working with.

“His experience and feedback have proved invaluable to us in terms of improving our overall performance - a fact that’s clearly evident in both his qualifying and race performances in the VF-24 this season.

“There's lots more racing to go this year, so we look forward to continuing to benefit from his inputs throughout the remainder of the 2024 season.”

Hulkenberg’s departure opens a logical vacancy at Haas next year for Ferrari reserve Oliver Bearman, who impressed greatly during a stand-in appearance for Sainz at this year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and has been widely tipped to make the move up to F1 in 2025.

It is unclear who Hulkenberg’s team-mate at Sauber will be in 2025, with it looking increasingly unlikely that either of its current drivers Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou will remain.

Sainz is understood to remain a key target, but the Spaniard is understood to still want to bide his time while the picture at other teams becomes clearer over forthcoming weeks.

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