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Audi is reportedly mulling the idea of entering Formula 1, and it’s no mere passing thought by the sound of it. The BBC says that the Volkswagen Group is conducting a feasibility study on whether Audi should enter F1. The study is being conducted by Stefano Domenicali, the former Ferrari team boss who joined Audi in November.

The BBC report added that Audi would join F1 with its own team, based in Germany. Other reports say that the company’s entry into the sport – to challenge successful rival Mercedes-Benz – could happen in 2016 or 2017.

If the move turns out to be real, then it’s definitely a change of tune. Back in 2011, it was reported that Audi had very little time for Formula 1, that the series just wasn’t up its alley with regards to relevance.

At the time, Audi’s motorsport boss Wolfgang Ullrich said that the automaker felt that something like Le Mans was a more pertinent arena for manufacturers to obtain all the necessary. “There’s a very good reason why we are not in F1. There’s no relevance to the road,” Ullrich was quoted then.

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“Audi has always been engaged in motorsport that’s relevant to our customers such as rallying and touring cars, which brought quattro, FSI and TFSI to our road cars. This is why in 1999, we decided against F1. Instead, we decided to take on the greatest race in the world. We went for Le Mans,” Ullrich had said.

Last month, Ullrich again played down speculation about a possible F1 entry, telling reporters that “there is no decision that we are going in that direction.” For the latest round, Audi have dismissed the reports as “rumours” and have issued no further comment on the matter.

Back in 2012, Volkswagen was also reported to be considering joining F1, with the first step for VW in the premier four-wheel racing series being as an engine supplier.