Valtteri Bottas is keen to initiate contract discussions with Sauber early in the 2024 season to solidify his position ahead of Audi's entry into F1 in 2026.
Audi has acquired a minority stake in Sauber but has committed to increasing its holding to 75% as the Swiss outfit transforms itself into the German manufacturer’s full-force works F1 entry in the next two years.
Bottas, who is contracted to Sauber until the end of 2024, is seeking a one-year extension which he believes would increase his chances of remaining at Hinwil when Audi takes charge in 2026.
The ten-time Grand Prix winner believes that demonstrating his continued commitment to the team would make him a strong candidate for Audi's F1 program.
“F1 is the number one thing for me,” the 34-year-old told Motorsport.com.
“I'm still hungry to get back on the podium eventually. The Audi project could be the next opportunity.”
Bottas's ambition to join Audi stems from the brand's rich motorsport heritage and its potential to challenge for Formula 1 victories.
With Audi's expertise in engineering and innovation, Bottas believes that the team could be a force to be reckoned with in the sport.
“From my understanding, they're going to make decisions of the years ahead early [this] year. So not yet. I'm going to have those discussions in the first quarter of [this] year.”
As a highly experienced and consistent driver with a proven track record of success, it would certainly make sense for Audi to retain Bottas.
However, the Ingolstadt firm might be inclined to choose a younger driver than the Finn who will be 37 by the time Audi enters F1.
Should that be the case, Bottas would seek to remain on the grid in F1.
“I would, of course. I'm just being really honest here,” he added.
“Being part of Audi would be my number one priority and preference. But if for some reason not, then absolutely I would talk to [other teams].
“I want to be around because I feel like I still have some unfinished things in this sport.”