Formula 1: Nico Hulkenberg leaving Haas for Sauber in 2025

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and MoneyGram Haas F1 Team on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Song Haiyuan/MB Media/Getty Images)
Nico Hulkenberg has failed to score a podium finish in over 200 Formula 1 starts. (Photo by Song Haiyuan/MB Media/Getty Images)

Nico Hulkenberg will have a new Formula 1 team in 2025.

Sauber announced Friday that Hulkenberg would join the team next season as it prepares for Audi to enter Formula 1 in 2026. The German car manufacturer is joining Formula 1 in two seasons when new car and engine regulations take effect. Sauber will be Audi’s factory team.

“We are very pleased to welcome Nico back here in Hinwil from 2025 and to compete with him in Formula 1,” Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl said in a statement. “Right from the start, there was great mutual interest in building something long-term together. Nico is a strong personality, and his input on a professional and personal level will help us to make progress both in the development of the car and in building up the team.”

Hulkenberg, 36, has driven 208 races in Formula 1 and never scored a podium finish. After sitting out the 2021 season and driving the first two races of 2022 as a substitute driver, Hulkenberg has been at Haas since the start of 2023. After scoring just one top-10 finish in 2023, Hulkenberg has three points-scoring finishes over the first five races of the 2024 season.

Sauber’s move means that it will not retain either Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu in 2025, and it’s possible that neither driver could be with the team next season. Sauber has been mentioned as a possible destination for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz as the team looks to make a leap with Audi in 2026. Sainz is out at Ferrari at the end of this season as Lewis Hamilton joins the team to drive alongside Charles Leclerc in 2025.

After getting his start in F1 with Williams in 2010, Hulkenberg drove for Sauber in 2013. He finished 10th in the points standings. His best season came in 2018, when he finished seventh in the standings.

Sauber has struggled mightily in 2024, both in terms of its speed on the track and with its pit stops during races. Neither Zhou or Bottas has scored a point this season. Sauber, Williams and Alpine are the only three teams to have both drivers without points through the first five races of the season.

Haas may not have to look far to find Hulkenberg's replacement next season. The team has an alliance with Ferrari and could be a logical landing spot for Ferrari's Oliver Bearman. The 18-year-old made his F1 debut in Saudi Arabia earlier this year after Sainz had an appendectomy and finished seventh after qualifying 11th.