Valtteri Bottas has his eyes on an Audi seat come 2026 and hopes Sauber deliver an F1 2024 car that allows him to demonstrate his “value” to the incoming brand.
Sauber waved goodbye to Alfa Romeo at the end of F1 2023, their partnership concluding as Sauber now switches its focus to an exciting union ahead as they become the Audi works team as of 2026.
Before that though there are two seasons to navigate, where progress is expected on and off the track to create the ideal transition into the Audi era.
Valtteri Bottas wants to prove his worth to Audi
Sauber retained their driver line-up of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu for a third season for F1 2024, the team looking to recover from an underwhelming season just gone, having slumped to P9 in the Constructors’ Championship, a campaign which Bottas said highlighted the need for all-round improvement.
And as well as for the good of the team, 10-time grand prix winner Bottas wants a stronger car for himself in F1 2024, in order to give him the platform needed to prove that he has the pace and experience combination which can prove valuable to Audi.
Asked if any plans are in motion for a contract extension beyond his current deal that expires at the end of F1 2024, Bottas told Motorsport-Magazin.com: “That’s something we need to discuss with the team.
“Of course, everyone knows that Audi will officially take over in 2026. Of course, that is an exciting project and would be a continuation of this project for me.
“But from the team side, there is no decision yet on what the driver pairing will look like after next year. I think these discussions will take place next year. Now everything is still pretty open.
“I hope that we find a bit more pace and that I get a car that I can do something with. In this way, I want to show them [Audi] that my speed and experience would be valuable to them.”
Valtteri Bottas says Sauber lacking personnel
Alfa Romeo-Sauber actually came out of the blocks very strong when the new F1 ground effect regulations were rolled out for 2022, Bottas starting the season as a regular figure in the top 10 as talk shifted to when he could potentially take his team to the podium.
It has been a story of decline since then though, Bottas saying Sauber need to increase their workforce to progress, an issue which CEO Andreas Seidl is aware of and striving to rectify.
“There is a lack of manpower, more people are needed throughout the team and in the factory,” said Bottas. “Andreas is aware of this and is working hard on it.
“There will be a lot of commitments. There is also something of a reorganisation of the team at the moment. For example, there is a new technical director [James Key]. Andreas came in to replace Fred [Vasseur]. That will take some time to see how that will affect the team in the future.
“So for me there is still a bit of a lack of resources. Over the winter, we simply haven’t made the progress in the wind tunnel that some other teams have achieved.”
Haas were the only team to finish below Alfa Romeo-Sauber in the final F1 2023 Constructors’ standings, Bottas scoring 10 of their 16 points.