‘One thing is clear’ – Audi make big decision on Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu – report

Henry Valantine
Sauber drivers Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas. Audi F1

Both Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas are looking to extend their stay at Sauber, with only one seat available for 2025.

Audi F1 have reportedly already decided upon the fates of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu at the end of this season, with both drivers out of contract at the conclusion of 2024.

At most, only one driver would retain their place with the team anyway, with the upcoming arrival of Nico Hülkenberg already confirmed for next season, but a report from Germany claims that both drivers are set to make way.

Both Bottas and Zhou set to miss out on Audi F1 seat, report claims

With one Audi F1 seat having been taken by a German driver, as was hoped for by the team upon their arrival into the sport, that leaves one cockpit up for grabs by the time the manufacturer completes their full takeover of Sauber when 2026 comes around.

But even though both drivers are looking to stake a claim for the seat, especially so if number one target Carlos Sainz goes elsewhere, German publication Sport Bild claims the team’s mind is already made up on their current line-up.

The report writes: “It remains to be seen who will be Hülkenberg’s team-mate. One thing is clear: neither the expiring contract of Valtteri Bottas (34) nor that of Zhou Guanyu (24) will be extended.

“In the case of both drivers, those responsible around boss [Andreas] Seidl are not convinced that they can fulfil Audi’s ambition: to establish themselves among the top teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, and compete for world championships.”

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Both Zhou and Bottas have expressed a desire to secure their futures in the sport sooner rather than later if they can, and while Zhou is keen to lock down a multi-year contract either with Sauber or elsewhere if he can, Bottas commented on his ‘surprise’ at Hulkenberg’s arrival at the team next season and how his own negotiations are progressing.

“Of course, the timing is quite early and a little bit surprising, but the driver market is starting to move, obviously, and it also kind of makes sense,” he told media in Miami.

“He’s German, and Audi has made it pretty clear that they want a German driver, so it’s all good. Let’s see what happens next.

And on his own future prospects, he added: “I don’t know. Obviously, speaking to multiple teams, some talks have advanced more than the others. So we’ll see.”

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