First Audi F1 driver confirmed as Adrian Newey exit rumours gather pace – F1 news round-up

Oliver Harden
A studio shot of Audi F1 showcar from behind

One piece of Audi's 2026 driver lineup has been fixed, but who will partner Nico Hulkenberg?

Friday’s F1 news roundup leads on the confirmation of Audi’s first driver signing for the F1 2026 season and more on those rumours that Adrian Newey is poised to leave Red Bull.

Buckle up for a thrill-a-minute ride at breakneck speed…

F1 news: Audi signing, Adrian Newey rumours and more

Nico Hulkenberg leaving Haas to become Audi’s first signing

Nico Hulkenberg has become the first driver signing of Audi’s highly anticipated F1 project, with the news that he will leave Haas at the end of the F1 2024 season confirmed.

Having been heavily linked with the German manufacturer over recent months, Hulkenberg will race for Sauber – where he previously spent one season in 2013 – in 2025 before the team morph into Audi for F1’s new era in 2026.

Confirmation of Hulkenberg’s arrival will leave one of Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu, Sauber’s current pairing, without a seat for 2025 with the team’s lineup yet to be finalised.

Sauber/Audi have been persistently linked with a move for outgoing Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz.

Read more: Audi confirm long-suspected Nico Hulkenberg move after Haas exit sealed

Adrian Newey reportedly rejects Aston Martin offer

Adrian Newey’s F1 future has been a hot topic since it was widely reported on Thursday that the design guru has signalled his intention to leave Red Bull.

The claims come after rumours over recent weeks indicated that Newey has received offers from both Aston Martin and Ferrari, who are both aiming to capitalise on the current uncertainty at Red Bull.

A former colleague of Newey’s from the Williams days has now claimed the 65-year-old has declined the offer from Aston Martin.

Read more: New Adrian Newey claim made after receiving big-money Aston Martin offer

Red Bull warned of ‘massive’ consequences of potential Adrian Newey exit

Former F1 strategist Bernie Collins has warned Red Bull are likely to face “massive” consequences if Adrian Newey leaves the team ahead of F1’s next rules reset in 2026.

The sudden uncertainty surrounding Newey’s future comes at a delicate time, with the regulations for 2026 set to be firmed up this summer.

Collins, the former McLaren and Force India strategy guru, fears the loss of Newey could heavily compromise the team’s performance on track after two dominant years in 2022/23.

Read more: Concerns rise for Red Bull’s F1 2026 plans as Adrian Newey rumours swirl

Helmut Marko reveals more on Carlos Sainz’s Audi offer

Helmut Marko has shed more light on the Audi offer to Carlos Sainz that has reportedly been extended to the outgoing Ferrari driver.

Marko went rogue in the buildup to the Chinese Grand Prix by admitting Red Bull could not match the “very lucrative offer” presented to Sainz by Audi for 2025 and beyond.

That earned the long-serving Red Bull adviser a rebuke from team principal Christian Horner, who remarked in Shanghai that it is “improper to disclose what offers are made.”

Think that’s stopped Marko? The good doctor has now revealed the exact length of the contract offered to Sainz.

Read more: Helmut Marko reveals further detail on Carlos Sainz’s Audi offer as deadline looms

Carlos Sainz advised against Red Bull move

Sainz should jump at the chance to join Mercedes for the F1 2025 season, with a direct swap with Lewis Hamilton making “more sense” than becoming Max Verstappen’s team-mate at Red Bull.

That is the view of Nelson Piquet Jr, who is convinced that Mercedes will return to the top sooner than later.

Multiple reports from Italy earlier this month claimed Sainz is on the verge of agreeing a deal to replace Hamilton, who announced in February that he will join Ferrari in 2025.

Read more: Carlos Sainz ‘can’t go’ to Red Bull with F1 2025 move that ‘makes sense’ revealed