Sauber admits eye on Sainz for Audi future
"Carlos is one of the best drivers currently in F1"
The Swiss team Sauber, to drop the Alfa Romeo name at the end of the season, admits it has its eye on Formula 1’s two on-form Spaniards for the future.
New CEO Andreas Seidl’s face has been absent from the paddock in 2023 so far as Sauber prepare for the future, where by 2026 it will race as Audi’s works team.
Currently in the cockpit are Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyou - with the more experienced of the pair, former Mercedes race winner and Finn Bottas, notably struggling in 2023.
In Barcelona, Chinese Zhou finished in the points - while Bottas was second to last.
"Zhou is of course a talented guy, but today either there was a problem with Valtteri’s car or he was still thinking about some cycling race or something," former F1 driver David Coulthard told Viaplay at the Spanish GP.
For now, Alfa Romeo team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi is not raising the alarm.
"We have a mix of experience and talent and that is our strength this year," he told El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.
"We want to continue to provide stability to the team, but the team’s primary objective now is to give the drivers a competitive package."
Coulthard, however, fears that Sauber will eventually have to wonder if Bottas still has his foot to the floor.
"We’ll have to look at the situation again when we get to the middle of the season," said the Scot. "I think Valtteri should be more consistent in his results."
Bravi, though, says there is still "plenty of time" for the team to improve the struggling 2023 car, even if the rumours about the Audi-powered future are already well underway.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, for instance, is already being linked with a 2026 seat.
"We are satisfied with our current driver pairing and our aim is to give them competitive material," Bravi insisted.
"Obviously, I think Carlos Sainz is one of the best drivers currently in F1. But he drives for Ferrari and I think he is happy at Ferrari.
"We too have to think about our drivers and give them all the tools to do a good job."
Bravi also admitted that Sauber and Audi might be interested in snapping up the on-form Fernando Alonso if he parts ways with Aston Martin before 2026.
"I would always sign Fernando, even at 45 years of age or older," he insisted.
"I got to know him well at McLaren when I was the manager of Stoffel Vandoorne, who was his teammate. It’s a pleasure for me to see what Fernando is doing but as I say we are happy with our drivers."
Alfa Romeo F1 Team - Sauber
More on Alfa Romeo F1 Team - Sauber
More on Audi F1