Panasonic has been linked to a return to F1 with the Sauber team in a possible tie-up with Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi.

Panasonic acted as title sponsor throughout Toyota's time in F1 and had agreed an extension of its sponsorship deal before the manufacturer elected to leave the sport at the end of the 2009 season.

Paddock rumours published by the French-speaking side of the ESPNF1 website have now suggested however that Panasonic is interested in returning to the F1 scene next season in support of Kobayashi, who was one of the stars of the Japanese Grand Prix with his late charge up the order.

Kobayashi has previously had support from Panasonic having come through the ranks as part of Toyota's young driver programme, and made his F1 debut with Toyota in the latter stages of 2009 as a replacement for the injured Timo Glock.

Although Sauber will carry backing from the Mexican communications giant Telmex next year as part of the deal that will see Sergio Perez partner Kobayashi, the team has remained hopeful that Kobayashi's encouraging form during his first full season would encourage Japanese companies to invest in his career.

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