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Audi link making Stake a player in F1 driver market

Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 for 2026 is making Stake a serious player in the driver market this season despite on-track struggles, according to team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi.

The Sauber-run team has yet to score a point in the opening five races and has been hampered by pit stop issues that have caused a number of slow stops, frustrating drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. Despite the challenging results so far in 2024, the fact that Audi will take over the team and enter as a full constructor in less than two years is leading to a lot of interest from drivers, according to Alunni Bravi.

“First, let me say that there are a lot of speculations around our teams and comments,” Alunni Bravi said. “And, of course, I don’t want to comment on speculation… But there’s all the teams. There are 14 drivers without a contract fixed for next year. So, as all the teams, we are speaking with different drivers.

“It’s not the time for us to take any decision. It’s time to provide our drivers with a performing car. But let me say that we are happy that it seems that we can play a role — a different role in the drivers’ market for the future — thanks to Audi’s announcement and all the investment that will be done in order to improve our team

“So I think that is good news for our team. Finally we are attractive and we are not spectators, we are a player in the market.”

During the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko claimed discussions with Carlos Sainz had left him feeling that Red Bull could not compete with an offer Audi had made to the Spaniard, but Alunni Bravi says all teams and drivers are likely to have multiple discussions ongoing.

“I think they are mere speculation, because, every driver, I think, is speaking with a lot of teams to understand the situation, to understand if there could be a common vision on the project, especially for a team like us that is in a full transformation process ahead of 2026. But we are focused on our drivers and we respect our drivers.

“We know that we need to deliver better performance as a team. And this is the first step to start deciding what will be the driver lineup for the future. First, we need to consolidate our performance. So far, we didn’t score points. So I think that the main target, and the priority for the team, is to start scoring points and then to approach the drivers’ market, starting with discussion with our drivers and then having, of course, open eyes on the market.

“It’s not appropriate to disclose what could be the discussion in place. No one really knows what other teams are offering to the drivers, or are discussing with the drivers, and sometimes we don’t want to be part of a game that is done by others … I think that the car performance now is our priority and there will be time to take the right decision for the future.”

Story originally appeared on Racer