Audi says it wants to create a surprise when it soon announces its slate of future motorsport projects, with Formula 1 seen as a potential playing field for the Ingolstadt firm.
Last November, it was reported that Audi was on the verge of acquiring the entire McLaren Group, the entity that includes both McLaren Automotive and its racing operations overseen by CEO Zak Brown.
However, McLaren quickly moved to deny the report published at the time by Autocar. Such a deal would have obviously given Audi a direct pipeline into Formula 1, presumably as an engine supplier to McLaren.
Two months on, the rumor of Audi's takeover of McLaren - or at least a significant investment by the latter in the British manufacturer - continues to linger.
The Volkswagen Group is expected to clarify any day now whether either Audi or Porsche, or perhaps both its affiliates, will have a presence in F1 from 2026 when the sport ushers in its next generation engines, the regulations for which have been devised with input from Audi and Porsche.
Oliver Hoffmann, Audi's Technical Development CEO, addressed the German constructor's current and future motorsport plans but stopped short of revealing whether Audi would join the fray in F1.
"We want to surprise with our motorsport projects," Hoffmann said, quoted by Sport1.
"The Dakar makes sense for us as a brand because of the innovative and progressive drive concept. We drive long distances through the desert with electric motors and an energy converter.
"From 2023 we will also be competing again at Le Mans (with an LMDh prototype in the Hypercar class). We will see what else comes in the future.
"The FIA have made some good decisions regarding the future of Formula 1 and last season was also very interesting. But now we are focusing on the Dakar and Le Mans for the time being."
It is generally believed that a tie-up between McLaren and Audi would also entail a partnership between Red Bull and Porsche from 2026, which implies that the two VW brands would compete head-to-head on two fronts: Formula 1 and the World Endurance Championship.