Sauber reportedly want ‘rid’ of driver as they look to the future with Audi

Michelle Foster
A view from above the Kick Sauber C44, launched by Stake F1.

A view from above the Kick Sauber C44, launched by Stake F1.

Valtteri Bottas may be speaking of an Audi future, but according to journalist Christian Menath, Sauber boss Andreas Seidl wanted “rid of him” last year already.

Leaving Mercedes for Alfa Romeo, the team’s title sponsor in 2022, Bottas has failed to drag the Sauber team up the ranks. In fact, last season they plummeted from sixth to ninth.

‘I’m pretty sure that there are two cockpits to fill’

Where the blame for that lies has divided pundits and fans.

A team in the midst of a major change as Alfa Romeo reverted to Sauber ahead of the Audi takeover, that itself coming with major changes in the hierarchy including the signing of Seidl as Sauber CEO, it has been suggested that the Hinwil outfit is a team in limbo, waiting for 2026.

Talking of building blocks being put into place has become the mantra, but failing to shine two years in a row, it’s also led to speculation Audi could withdraw.

That was quashed earlier this month when Audi and Sauber announced the German manufacturer’s 100 per cent buyout of the Formula 1 team, a takeover which has arrived quicker than expected.

But even in the face of fresh investment, drive and impetus, Sauber still have one issue – the drivers.

Bottas and Zhou Guanyu have been team-mates for two seasons with neither shining during their time with the team.

It has Menath telling Motorsport-Magazin, he reckons CEO Seidl actually wants rid of the drivers, both Bottas and Zhoul.

“Sauber, relatively disappointing in terms of performance,” F1Oversteer quotes him as having told their YouTube channel. “Sauber is not 100% satisfied with the two drivers.

“Valtteri Bottas was signed by Fred Vasseur three years ago, not Andreas Seidl who probably would have liked to have been rid of him a year earlier, so I’m pretty sure that there are two cockpits to fill.

“Zhou Guanyu, of course, also brings a lot of money, but perspectively, Sauber will become the Audi works team and a pay driver will no longer be required to play a role at all.”

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However, Bottas, who is out of contract at the end of this season, is keen to continue with Sauber as the team heads into the Audi era.

“20 seasons… I think it’s possible,” he told PlanetF1.com in an exclusive interview.

“I’m not thinking that far yet but, as far as I’m looking, I don’t see the end of me being in F1.

“I definitely want to be here for some successful years, the goal and motivation now is to try and get back closer to the front somehow.”

“I hope the people who will make decisions feel like I don’t need to prove anything,” he added.

“If you look at my track record, if I have the car, they should know what I can do.

“But still, it is an extra motivation, absolutely, to do well, because, unfortunately, the memory is quite short in this sport for many people. So you have one average season and the people are going to forget you. So I do want to have a good year.”

34-year-old Bottas is a 10-time Grand Prix winner who started his career with Williams before moving to Mercedes and then Sauber.

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