And I don’t recall there being anything about Hyundai entering in 2008. The FIA reportedly received twenty (or more) applications for the vacant grid space, but that ultimately went to Prodrive. If Hyundai had submitted an application of their own, then as a manufacturer, they almost certainly would have been selected, unless the bid was completely incompetent. The only way I can see that being a conceivable situation would be if Hyundai was a naming-rights sponsor for the team, so it would have been like Manor competing as Virgin. I remember Dave Richards talking about having secured a major sponsor for the Prodrive team, and he was going to announce it at the British Grand Prix (I remember it because I was actually quite looking forward to it), but then the customer chassis deal fell apart and the sponsor was never named.
I do know that Hyundai was looking at an entry in 2010. The few articles I can find on the subject (such as the one I linked to in the opening post) clearly name 2010 as the start date for the team, and there is actually Hyundai F1 website (though I can’t tell if it has any connection to the actual company). So it looks like they clearly had some kind of plan for 2010, but the recession kicked in beforehand.
Interestingly, I’ve aslo found this story from YallaF1 dated 18 October last year (you can tell from the URL), which contains the following direct quote from a Korean Grand Prix spokesman:
“Hyundai has been enthusiastic about the idea around the middle management levels, but the CEO has yet to be convinced.”
I don’t know how well-placed this guy is, but everything I have posted to date has operated on outdated information. Until now.