Nicky Hayden believes Andrea Dovizioso is the 'best choice' to replace the departing Valentino Rossi at the factory Ducati MotoGP team next year.
Dovizioso replaced Hayden at Repsol Honda in 2009, taking his only MotoGP win in that same season.
The Italian finished third in last year's world championship, but was forced to switch to Tech 3 Yamaha after Honda cut back to two official riders.
Dovi has taken four podiums so far this year and holds fourth - as the top satellite rider - in the world championship standings heading into this weekend's Indianapolis round.
“Yeah, if it's Dovi, I think he's probably the best choice out there,” said Hayden. “He's got good experience. I'm happy. [He's] spent years at Honda, then now Yamaha, and now come there. I think his experience can be beneficial to our engineers.
“How he'll go on the Ducati, we'll have to wait and see. Of course, I think one of the good things, Dovi doesn't make a lot of mistakes when he rides. He's pretty precise, and that's important. Because if you make a lot of mistakes on the Japanese bike, when you get on the Ducati, that's just double. (Laughter)
“Well, maybe not double, but more. So hopefully he can bring some knowledge and help us make a good bike if he does come. And I look forward to having a strong team-mate.”
Hayden is seventh in the championship and the top Ducati rider after ten of 18 rounds. The American has already re-signed for 2013.
Dovizioso's team-mate Cal Crutchlow was also linked with a factory Desmosedici seat earlier in the year.