Sauber: Bottas F1 race engineer switched down to Audi

According to Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Sauber's choice to replace Valtteri Bottas as race engineer for the Formula 1 Miami round was a component of Audi's strategy to "anticipate" modifications for its 2026 entrance.

(Motorsports news) Alex Chan, the engineer that Bottas had collaborated with since joining the team in 2022, was replaced by former Ferrari performance engineer Steven Petrik.

The fact that Bottas stated that the choice was “not in my hands” raised the possibility that this was a part of Audi’s “reconstruction” of the Sauber team in preparation for the German company’s 2026 debut as a total works outfit.

This was essentially the situation, according to Sauber spokeswoman Alunni Bravi, who also revealed that CEO Andreas Seidl has been making adjustments that will bring the team closer to its ultimate form when the rebrand is finished at the end of 2025.

“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,” Alunni Bravi said.

However, we had to begin putting those reforms into practice. This is not the race team’s ultimate organizational setup. The organizational chart and the final structure of the Audi F1 team are not yet available, much like in Hinwil.

“We wanted to get going, and Andreas Seidl made the decision to do so right away. We believe that in addition to adding a little bit more experience, we also need to bring in experts from other teams, elite teams, and other teams who can assist us improve our procedures and analysis.”

Alunni Bravi further mentioned that Petrik’s introduction to Bottas as race engineer had begun at the Pirelli test after the Grand Prix in Japan, and that Bottas had been informed of the team’s choice following China.

He continued by saying that there was “no connection” between the two acquisitions, despite Petrik’s arrival occurring the same week the team announced Nico Hulkenberg will join in 2025.

Naturally, it is now our responsibility to integrate the new engineer and, of course, to build a positive working and personal rapport between Valtteri and the racing engineer.

“After China, Valtteri and I talked about this. Immediately following the race, a meeting was held. During the two Pirelli test days, Steven Petrik was already Valtteri’s race engineer in Suzuka.

We also made the decision to prepare for this shift. Of course, decisions can always be made poorly or well; the question of whether we made the right choice now will only become clear with time.

However, there was no connection between Nico Hulkenberg’s declaration and the race engineer’s adjustment. To establish a new organization as quickly as feasible for the race team was merely one of the initial actions we intended to take.”

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