Sauber: Bottas' race engineer switch tied to Audi forward planning


Sauber representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi has revealed that the team’s decision ahead of the Miami Grand Prix to swap Valtteri Bottas' race engineer was a move dictated by Audi's forward planning ahead of its full works entry into Formula 1 in 2026.

Bottas had worked alongside engineer Alex Chan since joining Sauber in 2022 and was informed ahead of last weekend’s race that Steven Petrick, a former performance engineer with Ferrari, would be taking Chan’s place.

The move hinted at a bigger picture, with Bottas himself suggesting it was part of a larger "reconstruction" initiative by the Swiss outfit in preparation for Audi's official arrival in 2026.

The Finn seemed none too pleased with the decision, but Alunni Bravi confirmed the reason behind the change decided by Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl.

"Andreas Seidl decided to anticipate certain decisions and start implementing the changes that will bring the current structure towards the final structure that we will have in place in '26," the Italian explained.

"But we needed to start implementing those changes. This is not the final structure of the race team. As in Hinwil there is not the final structure of what will be the Audi F1 team and the organisational chart.

"We wanted to start, and Andreas Seidl decided to do it immediately. Because we think that we need to bring a bit more experience, but also to bring people that can have know-how from other teams, from top teams and help us to develop our processes, our analysis."

Alunni Bravi said the change did not come out of the blue for Bottas as he had started working with Petrick after the Chinse Grand Prix when the latter engineered the Finn during a subsequent Pirelli tyre test in Shanghai. The Finn was also given a heads up by the team on its plans.

"Of course, it's now up to us to integrate the new engineer, and also, of course, to create, to establish a good working relationship, but also personal relationship between Valtteri and race engineer,” added Alunni Bravi.

"We discussed this with Valtteri after China. There was a meeting immediately after the race. Steven Petrik was already race engineer of Valtteri in Suzuka during the two Pirelli test days.

"And we decided to anticipate this change. Of course, when you take a decision, you can always take a good or a bad decision - and only the time will prove if we have been good in taking this one.

"But this... there was no link between the change of the race engineer and the announcement of Nico [Hulkenberg]. It was just one of the first steps that we wanted to implement, to have a new organisation also in the race team coming into place as soon as possible."

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