With Audi set to take control of Sauber in Formula 1 starting in 2026, there is plenty of speculation as to which drivers could lead the team.
Audi’s impending entrance into Formula 1 is seen as a rather big spectacle, and they are expected to hit the ground running right from the start in 2026.
Naturally, a competitive driver lineup will be the desire. By the time the 2026 season rolls around, the driver market could be wide open. There is one duo in particular with whom Audi could begin in a serious effort to compete right from the get-go.
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris make up the ideal duo for Audi. However, this is under the assumption that both drivers would be able to depart from their current teams after the 2025 season.
Given the narrative surrounding the Formula 1 project Audi are building, success is meant to be imminent.
Both Sainz and Norris have the talent and the ability to form a dynamic duo on the track, and age will not be an issue, even in 2026. Sainz would be 31 and Norris would be 26.
Both drivers are good options to be the face of a new project, given their current situations. Neither driver is in a particularly pleasant situation at their current team, and as it stands, both of them could find themselves in a different garage come 2024, even though both are under contract to return.
Sainz’s contract with Ferrari expires at the end of the 2024 season, and Norris’s contract with McLaren ends at the end of the 2025 season.
That puts Audi in a position to capitalize.
First off, Sainz could be a great fit for Audi. His success has been evident in glimpses throughout his tenure with McLaren and Ferrari. As time progresses, it is becoming clearer that he does not fit the profile of a Ferrari driver. Given the immense pedigree of the team, their standard is quite high.
But Sainz could thrive elsewhere, and a new opportunity could be of great benefit to him. It may be in his best interest to move on.
As for Norris, there are no doubts on his talent. Since his arrival at McLaren, the 23-year-old has received plenty of praise regarding his driving abilities. As of late, the situation at McLaren has not been too good, and plenty are calling for his imminent departure so that his development is not hindered.
Whether he leaves before or after his contract runs out, an opportunity presented by Audi would definitely appear to be too good to pass up. The team focusing on Norris as the long-term future could prove to be mutually beneficial.
Norris and Sainz have gotten along well together at McLaren in the past as well, competing as teammates in 2019 and 2020.
Audi deciding to commence their campaign in Formula 1 with a duo of Sainz and Norris makes sense on every level. The pair comprise a strong duo that would be poised to bring glory to the German manufacturer. While a lot could change over the next few years, these two drivers should be watched closely.