Zhou and Bottas surprised by early Hülkenberg announcement for 2025 F1 seat

Photo Credit: Sauber
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Times they are a-changin’ at Sauber. The former Alfa Romeo squad is slowly but certainly transforming into the Audi works team, which will be in effect from 2026 onwards. Part of that transformation is the announcement that Nico Hülkenberg will change the British countryside for the Swiss Alps as he moves from Haas to Sauber for next year.

Third-year driver for the team Zhou Guanyu admitted he was surprised by the announcement, with the news breaking quite early in the season.

“The whole announcement, it’s a bit more early than I expected, but it doesn’t really change my approach,” he explained. “I just try to focus on my job with the current team, to prove myself and give it everything I have, for my future. Of course, we’re looking at different options, to see what was the best.

“We didn’t really get much involvement with Nico, so I can’t really say much about the other seat available for this team. All I can say is I think Andreas Seidl is looking at all different options, including me and Valtteri [Bottas]. Of course, here is a place that can be possible for the future, for next year.”

Formula 1’s first ever Chinese driver claims he “feels comfortable enough to stay on the grid” in 2025, but he realises that either he or Bottas will have to make room for the German.

Photo Credit: Sauber

His Finnish teammate echoed the suprise on the early announcement, although he could see the reasoning behind it.

“The timing is quite early, and yeah, a little bit surprising but the driver market is starting to move.”

He explained: “It also kind of makes sense – he’s German, and Audi’s made it pretty clear they want a German driver. It’s all good, let’s see what happens next.

“[I’m] obviously speaking to multiple teams. Some talks have advanced more than the others, so we’ll see.”

In addition to the silly-season proceedings there is also a swap in race engineer for the former Mercedes driver. Having worked with Alex Chan until China, he’s now told by the team that he will work with someone else.

A move he himself couldn’t quite explain: “I think that’s more a question for the team [why the change was made]. It was quite a sudden change.

“It’s a Sprint weekend so working with a fresh guy will be not easy, but [we’re] obviously trying to make the most out of it. He’s getting lots of support but, yeah, it’s quite a sudden change.”

Bottas hinted this also might be part of the transformation from Sauber to Audi.

“I think it’s part of the reconstruction for the team. There’s some people leaving, some people joining, and obviously many of those decisions are not in my hands.”