F1 legend Michael Schumacher believes Casey Stoner will have plenty of time to make a MotoGP comeback, should the reigning double champion change his mind about retirement.
While some, including countryman Mick Doohan, have suggested Stoner could be tempted to stay on for 2013, most feel the Australian's decision to quit at the end of 2012 is final.
But there is always the chance that, like Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, Stoner could return after spending a few years away to rest and recharge. Stoner will be 27 by the end of this season.
Schumacher was present at last weekend's Le Man's MotoGP race where Stoner announced his surprise retirement decision.
“My feeling is that most of those who have involvement [in MotoGP] were surprised,” said Schumacher of the Stoner announcement. “So was I, but then you have to respect it and I don't know his reasons in detail.
“But he's young enough to have a sabbatical rather than a total stop and we'll see.”
43-year-old Schumacher retired at the end of 2006, then made a comeback with Mercedes in 2010.
“Each one is very individual, why and for what reason he decides on his retirement,” said Schumacher. “Mine, at the time, had nothing to do with any other reason than because I felt like I was tired, three years ago. That's it.”
Schumacher, a winner of 91 F1 races, is yet to finish on the podium since his comeback - but insists he enjoys racing just as much.
Stoner, the most successful MotoGP rider since 2006, is currently second for Repsol Honda in the 2012 world championship standings.