Valtteri Bottas has recalled his first meeting with new Sauber Group CEO Andreas Seidl, saying the “nice guy” is “really motivated”.
Seidl’s move from McLaren to Sauber came as one of the bigger surprises as Formula 1’s team management played their own round of silly season late last year.
Kicked off by Mattia Binotto’s resignation as Ferrari team principal, Fred Vasseur was soon announced as his replacement with Seidl leaving McLaren to take up the reins at Sauber.
But, rather than take the team boss title, he is the Sauber Group’s CEO with managing director Alessandro Alunni Bravi named as the team representative.
Seidl’s main task is preparing the team for Audi’s arrival in 2026, the German carmaker having recently completed the first buy-in with a reported 25 percent stake in Sauber.
Bottas, who plans to “stick around” to enjoy the “huge opportunity” that Audi presents, met his new boss two weeks ago.
So far, so good.
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“It was two weeks ago I met him for the first time,” the Finn said as per Autosport. “First of all, a nice guy, but I can see that he’s really motivated.
“He seems to have a pretty clear direction, what to do with the team and how to motivate people. He seems to have the vision.
“Obviously he’s still just taking in a lot of information and trying to learn from other people about the team, what’s been happening in the past. I’m confident he is a good man for the role.”
The 33-year-old added that while he is looking forward to working with the German, he was sad to see Vasseur leave.
He revealed the Frenchman being team boss was one of the reasons he joined the Alfa Romeo project last season.
“It’s absolutely correct that Fred was one big reason,” he said. “Obviously, it is sad to lose Fred. But at the same time, he’s also my friend.
“So I’m really happy for him, because you’re not going to say no to that kind of role. He’s always been ambitious and he wants to progress, so I completely understand.
“But what makes me less worried is seeing the new structure, I feel like the team is in a pretty stable situation, I think with Andreas and Alessandro we’re going to be fine.
“And always when new people come and step to different roles there’s always new ways of thinking. So sometimes it’s not a bad thing.”
His team-mate Zhou Guanyu, entering his second season in Formula 1 having been retained by Vasseur over bringing in rookie driver Theo Pourchaire, revealed he has spent a fair amount of time with Seidl in recent weeks.
Like Bottas, he’s also happy with what he has seen and heard so far.
“I was here quite often the last few weeks, and spent a lot of time together with Andreas,” he said.
“I really felt how much he is really trying to push the team, but still these few weeks, he’s just taking his time to understand the whole company, to make sure everything is settled.
“But then I really see he’s very eager to bring the team up and to have a great future coming together. Spending dinner or lunch together, I really felt he’s a guy that knows quite well the technical side. He also knows the drivers well, because we’ve been speaking about his past.
“I really feel even though for the team maybe it’s a big change for us as a driver it doesn’t really change much because we’re still trying to do what we could best, It’s is more about trying to understand the way both of us are working.
“Of course it’s not going to be the same as the way Fred is working, but everyone has their own way which works. And I also heard many great words about him in the past from Oscar [Piastri]. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Valtteri Bottas is the right driver for the Audi job
Andreas Seidl has three years to prepare Sauber for Audi’s arrival with the German carmaker having more influence with every passing season, and every increased buy-in.
It has been claimed that Sauber will retain control of the team into 2024 with a majority stake but that Audi’s interest will be upped to 75 percent in 2025.
Seidl faces two tasks, the first of which is ensuing the Formula 1 has the right people in place to give Audi their best shot at instant success.
And having set out a three-year target to win races, that is instant in F1 terms.
He’s going to need the right drivers and, in his 2023 line up, he has one in Valtteri Bottas.
While the Finn is never going to set the stage alight, he proved during his days as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate that he is a solid driver, one who is willing to play the team game, and one who can help push a team forward.
No matter what his critics may say, it takes two drivers to win the Constructors’ Championship and Mercedes did that in every one of Bottas’ five seasons in Brackley.
But who his team-mate will be come 2026, that’s anyone’s guess.