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F1 arrival for Audi in 2026 complicated by major team change

F1 arrival for Audi in 2026 complicated by major team change

F1 arrival for Audi in 2026 complicated by major team change

F1 arrival for Audi in 2026 complicated by major team change

There are some news stories in Formula 1 that catch you completely off guard.

Daniel Ricciardo's decision to leave Red Bull for Renault back in 2018, for example, or Nico Rosberg's retirement from the sport when he had just claimed the 2016 world championship title.

Last week, a story of a similar magnitude broke seemingly out of nowhere, albeit surrounding a lesser name than those two previous examples. Haas' decision to get rid of team principal Guenther Steiner, who had been with the team since their inception into the sport in 2016.

The Italian had become a much-loved figure on the paddock, particularly since the success of Netflix's hit show Drive to Survive, and although the team have failed to finish higher than eighth in the constructors' championship since 2018, the general consensus was that Steiner's job was safe.

However, he has since been replaced by Ayao Komatsu, a man who previously held the position of chief race engineer in the Haas hierarchy.

Gene Haas recently removed Guenther Steiner from his position as team principal with the Haas F1 team
Guenther Steiner has been replaced by Ayao Komatsu
Mattia Binotto has been linked with a move to the new Audi team

But what impact might this change, less than two months before the start of the 2024 season, have on the wider F1 world?

Audi's big team principal decision

It has been confirmed that Audi will join the F1 grid in 2026, when new regulations will come sweeping into the sport.

They will take the place of the current Sauber-owned team (whose name seems to change so regularly it's hard to keep track), and have already started working on their engine for that first season.

One obvious question that surrounds the team's inception is who will drive for Audi? And, who will fill the key positions such as team principal?

READ MORE: Norris told to 'push' for McLaren exit with shock move to rival team

While Valtteri Bottas has been pretty bullish about his chances of taking one of the seats with the ambitious new outfit, who his boss would be remains a mystery.

There are many unknowns when it comes to personnel at the new Audi team in 2026

There has been rumours that former Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is high on the list for the German team, but he appeared to knock them back last year when it was reported that he had called some of the Audi hierarchy 'clowns'.

Steiner or Binotto for Audi top job?

It remains to be seen whether the team will continue their pursuit of Binotto, or look elsewhere for the person to take them into their first season in F1.

Steiner's newly-found availability may interest CEO Andreas Seidl, with the Italian a dab-hand when it comes to helping teams take their first steps in the sport.

He also has proved that he can make tough decisions, and appease big-name businessmen, with he and Gene Haas sharing an honest and strong working relationship during the Italian's tenure.

On the other hand, Binotto has race-winning experience, and with Audi's ambition being to become a big player in F1, his time at Ferrari could prove to be a useful asset.

Or, Audi could decide to take a completely different option, with former Toyota F1 star Cristiano da Matta also being linked with the job.

READ MORE: F1 team principals: Who is in charge of each team in 2024?

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Daniel Ricciardo Haas Guenther Steiner Ayao Komatsu Renault Nico Rosberg
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