With the major 2022 regulation change underway, 2026 will be the year that potential F1 entries have their sights set on.
Audi, Porsche and Andretti are among the names associated with a future path into F1, but it is believed that Volkswagen's Audi and Porsche are in the best position to make their mark.
Porsche has already been in talks with Red Bull, as the brand looks to become the Austrian squad's engine supplier for the next big regulation change, filling the gap left by the exiting Honda.
For Audi, however, buying or partnering with an existing team on the grid has been reported as their strategy to enter F1.
At one stage, there was speculation that Audi would strike a deal with McLaren, but the British team quickly shut down rumours of an Audi takeover at the end of last year.
The Woking team did not entirely dismiss the potential for future collaboration, but reports over the last few months have pointed towards Audi partnering with Sauber for 2026.
Swiss outlet Blick has reported that the Audi-Sauber collaboration is everything but official, with the two parties already working closely together.
Blick reports that an anonymous team boss has said that Audi has already "secured 25% of the shares" at Sauber and will soon acquire 50%.
If true, it seems logical that Audi and Sauber would be the two parties to find an agreement, given that Alfa Romeo was on the verge of selling the team to Andretti in 2021.
That agreement fell through at the last minute, with Andretti detailing their frustrations with the deal's eventual collapse in the following months.
Audi's financial and commercial muscle positions them in a better place than Andretti, whilst timing also seems to be on the German brand's side.
However, when asked to comment on the issue by Blick, Fred Vasseur did not want to comment, stating: "For me, Williams is the favourite. They have very good relations with Volkswagen and Germany."