Vodafone is setting its sights on a Formula One sponsorship for next year. A deal would mark its first association with the sport.
The mobile phone brand is understood to have held preliminary talks with the Benetton team about a deal that would see its branding appear on the cars driven next year by Briton Jenson Button and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella.
Vodafone, whose parent company Vodafone AirTouch has been involved with Benetton through its German D2 network, sees F1 as an ideal platform for raising brand awareness.
The global group has interests in mobile communications networks in 25 countries on five continents.
A Benetton spokesman said that its 2001 sponsor line-up will be revealed at its car launch in February.
Vodafone's rival, Orange, currently sponsors the Arrows F1 team in a deal worth pounds 70m.