Volkswagen would consider a move into F1 as early as the 2013 season if the financial climate and FIA regulations made it an attractive enough proposition.
Although automotive giants Honda, BMW and Toyota have all recently withdrawn from the sport due to the global financial crisis, VW motorsport boss Kris Nissen said that the Volkswagen Group - which includes Audi and Porsche - could look at an F1 programme, although such a move would be dependent on the confirmation on new engine regulations.
"All I can say at the moment is that nobody is aware of the new regulations for Formula One engines," Nissen told the Brisbane Times. "Until that is clear I think nobody, including Volkswagen, can do any comments on their interest. First we need from the FIA to know exactly the regulations from 2013 or '14 and we also need formula one [in general] to recover a bit.
"Formula One has been, I would say, in a crisis. It has been very expensive, manufacturers have been pulling out and a lot of political discussions and stories. Which I think, personally, is really a shame because I think formula one is number one in motorsport. Formula one is very attractive for everybody.
"I personally believe that every big, successful manufacturer should always do a good motorsport program, point one. Point two, they should always consider if Formula One could be possible or interesting because this is where you have the biggest and the highest awareness worldwide. But it's also, of course, the most expensive one. And it's also the one where if you are not successful it is the one where you can create, more or less, a bad image; you take a risk being there."
Nissen also said that if Volkswagen were to supply F1 engines, there were three possible options in terms of branding with Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen all possibilities.
"I'm in charge of the motorsport for the brand Volkswagen and I'm not in charge of the strategy for the group," said Nissen. "Within the group, for sure, it could be Audi, it could be Porsche and might also be Volkswagen. I think it would not suit so well Skoda or SEAT or Bentley."
Porsche is no stranger to Formula One, having competed in the championship in 1961 and 1962. In 1962, a newly developed flat-eight powered Porsche 804 produced Porsche's only win as a constructor in a championship race, claimed by Dan Gurney at the 1962 French Grand Prix.
Porsche returned to Formula One in 1983 after nearly two decades away, supplying water cooled V6 turbo engines badged as TAG units for the McLaren Team. TAG-Porsche-powered cars took two constructor championships in 1984 and 1985, three driver crowns between 1984 and 1986. The engines powered McLaren to 25 victories between 1984 and 1987.