Sauber-Audi defends ’sudden’ Bottas change

"Time will tell whether it was a good one or not"


14 May 2024 - 09:09
Sauber-Audi defends 'sudden'

Audi-owned Sauber has defended its decision to appoint a new race engineer for Valtteri Bottas as of the last Formula 1 race in Miami.

The Finn admits that he isn’t sure what his next move in F1 will be, having also declared that Audi signing Nico Hulkenberg for 2025 and beyond was "surprising" and "early".

"I don’t know," said Bottas. "I’m obviously speaking to multiple teams, some talks have advanced more than the others. So we’ll see."

Rumours connect Bottas with Haas, Alpine, and even a potential return to Williams, as the 34-year-old hinted that he is clearly being left out of Sauber’s preparations for its works transition to Audi by 2026.

"I think that’s a question for the team," he said when asked why his engineer since 2022, Alex Chan, had suddenly been assigned to a different post in Miami.

"It was quite a sudden change," Bottas added, "but obviously trying to make the most of it.

"I think it’s part of the kind of reconstruction of the team. And yeah, so I don’t do those decisions."

Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi defended the decision.

"(CEO) Andreas Seidl has decided to initiate a transition to bring the current structure closer to the final structure that will be in place in 2026," he is quoted as saying by the Japanese source

Alunni Bravi also denied that Bottas was caught out by the "sudden change".

"We spoke to Valtteri after China," he explained. "We had a meeting immediately after the race. Steven Petrik had already been with Valtteri in Pirelli’s two-day test at Suzuka."

Petrik is a former Ferrari performance engineer, but he was chastised by Bottas in Miami for making a critical radio call about traffic "too late".

"F*ck, that’s too late man, I had no idea," Bottas said at the time.

Alunni Bravi said: "Of course it’s up to us to integrate the new engineer and create a good working relationship, but also a personal relationship between Valtteri and his race engineer.

"Obviously, when you make a decision, you always make a good decision or a bad decision. Time will tell whether it was a good one or not.

"But there was no connection between the change of race engineer and Nico (Hulkenberg)’s announcement. This was the first step we wanted to take in setting up a new organisation in the race team as soon as possible."

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