Sebastian Vettel has suggested he may be willing to return to F1 in future years for a one-off race at Suzuka.
Earlier this year, the four-time World Champion announced his retirement from F1 at the end of 2022, after two largely underwhelming seasons with Aston Martin.
But having won the Japanese Grand Prix four times, and having sealed his 2011 F1 World Championship title at the track, Vettel has a special connection with Suzuka, and said he would consider coming back to F1 for a one-off race at the circuit.
"It is a great track, for many reasons. Who knows what the future brings?" Vettel told media including RacingNews365.com.
"Obviously I love driving, and around this track I always felt very alive, and the passion feels very alive, so we'll see what type of car, maybe in the future, will come up.
"Maybe if one of [the other drivers] feels a bit sick, I wouldn't mind jumping back in for a race in Suzuka any time, but obviously we'll see what the future brings.
"If anybody's happy to sign up a driver for a single race, I'm sure those guys wouldn't be happy to step aside, but it would be something I would seriously consider."
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Other returning World Champions
A potential one-off return to F1 for Vettel would echo a similar move by Jenson Button in 2017.
The 2009 World Champion had left McLaren and F1 at the end of the 2016 season, but returned for a one-off drive in the following year's Monaco Grand Prix when regular driver Fernando Alonso elected to compete instead in the Indy 500.
Similarly, after having initially retired from F1 at the end of 2006, Michael Schumacher had been set to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2009.
Ultimately, a neck injury incurred in a motorcycle crash earlier that year prevented the German from taking Massa's seat, but a fire had seemingly been lit in his mind, and Schumacher would return to F1 full-time in 2010 with the then-new Mercedes outfit.
And back in 1994, after the untimely death of Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell was tempted back to Williams for four races, with the Briton winning the final Grand Prix of the season at Adelaide.
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