Hulkenberg hopeful of having a ‘shot’ at Audi F1 seat

Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he is hopeful of producing strong enough performances to put him in the frame for a potential Audi seat once it enters Formula 1 in 2026.

Except for a handful of deputy performances for Racing Point/Aston Martin, Hulkenberg returned to F1 this year with Haas after a three-year absence from the sport.

The German has impressed amid a tough campaign for Haas, whose competitiveness has been stymied by a VF-23 car that has struggled with excessive tyre degradation.

Hulkenberg has out-qualified team-mate Kevin Magnussen at 11 of the 14 rounds this year, also out-scoring the Dane by eight points to three as Haas languish eighth in the Constructors’ Championship.

Although it was recently announced that Hulkenberg had penned a one-year extension with Haas, the 36-year-old has opened the door to a potential future Audi switch.

“It’s definitely one of the very attractive projects right now, a new brand coming into Formula 1,” Hulkenberg told the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“A German manufacturer as well, people that I’ve worked with and done really well before. Yeah, it all sounds really good on paper.

“Obviously, I still need to put in the work, keep [producing] convincing drives to maybe have a shot there. But only time will tell.”

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-23. 02.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Qualifying Day.

The German automotive giant will venture into F1 for the first time in its history in time for the next regulation change in 2026.

Despite underlining that it’s not a priority, Volkswagen’s CEO has previously acknowledged it would be highly interested in securing a German driver.

After the retirement of four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher being let go by Haas at the end of 2022, Hulkenberg is the only active German representative on the grid.

Therefore, Hulkenberg arguably represents the most viable homegrown option if Audi plumps for a German. The current Haas racer is one of the most experienced names in the sport having driven for an array of teams – including the Hinwil side in 2013.

The ex-Renault driver recently dismissed holding the record for the most F1 starts without accruing a podium finish, countering that it was a testament to his longevity.

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