The Volkswagen Group is considering entering Formula One from 2012 as an engine supplier.
The group's motorsport chief, Hans-Joachim Stuck, told Autosport that new engine regulations to be introduced to the sport aimed at cutting costs are making the sport more attractive for the firm.
VW was linked to buying into the Red Bull team a few years ago, but Stuck insisted any VW entry now would be as an engine supplier to multiple teams and not as a partner to a team in the same way Brawn has teamed up with Mercedes and BMW partnered Sauber.
"If you're the world's largest manufacturer it is natural that we're thinking about [F1], but not before 2012," he said. "We're looking for innovative things, and F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. Two years ago there was some talk that Volkswagen was going to buy the Red Bull F1 team, which we didn't need to buy. Why should we stick with one team if we can give our engines to more teams?
"If you buy Red Bull and Adrian Newey wants to go flying or fishing, the team is not successful any more. Look at BMW. They bought this multi-million-dollar wind tunnel and a supercomputer and they now close the doors. Building an engine and providing it to a team is the best way."
The imminent expansion of the grid and the reduced costs of the sport have caught VW's eye, and the firm is not deterred by the pullouts of Honda, BMW and Toyota in the past 12 months.
"Now it's amazing; Formula One is going the right way," said Stuck. "Many manufacturers have already pulled out, and we don't know how long the others will keep going.
"They should become engine manufacturers and then lease the engine, sell the engine or give it to somebody. Then you lose all the hassle with teams, wind tunnels, engineers, you know. It's like Formula 1 in my days. We had March, we had Lotus, and we had Ford engines. Then Renault came in as an engine manufacturer, with a formidable engine. This was perfect.
"I followed Formula 1 for the last seven years with BMW and I always asked myself on the grid, with only 20 cars, what if we could have 30 cars? Now we're getting back to this. We have three more teams next year, 26 cars, and by having a global engine, which is good in cost and reliable, we can have 30 cars on the grid."