Audi forsakes German driver pre-requisite, turns attention towards Andreas Seidl-favourite ahead of F1 entry

Audi is set to enter the pinnacle of motorsport racing when new technical regulations come into effect following the 2026 season. While it had previously been mooted that the German manufacturer wants a driver of the same nationality to spearhead its challenge, it has now emerged that they are keeping close tabs on Esteban Ocon.

Nico Hulkenberg and the recently-retired Sebastian Vettel were believed to be Audi’s primary targets till now, but it has emerged that Esteban Ocon is actually the man that they feel would be the perfect fit for them.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Credit:
Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Credit:

“Sources say Sauber-run Stake have the Frenchman very high up on their list as they prepare the operation to become Audi in 2026,” reported.

Former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl is leading Audi’s eventual arrival in the sport in conjunction with Sauber, and he has told the Audi management that Ocon would be the right person to initiate their F1 experience.

However, Ocon is just one of a “number of drivers” that the team is assessing before making a formal splash.

“Seidl has held meetings with driver managers up and down the grid about the future,” the report states.

End of the road for Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu?

This year, Sauber will run under the name Stake F1 Kick Sauber, much to the amusement of fans, and both Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu are expected to take the field this season.

While it is a make-or-break year for both drivers, there is no doubt that Ocon also presents an option of considerable talent and pedigree, having been around in the sport for a while.

Ocon famously outperformed Fernando Alonso at Alpine in 2022 and finished eight points ahead of teammate Pierre Gasly despite seven DNFs last season.

While the Alpine management is content to have Ocon and Gasly in its team for now, a change in senior management has put their long-term future in doubt.

Read more: Daniel Ricciardo roped in by ‘new team’ outside Red Bull family while on holiday in Australia

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