Seven years ago at Aragon, Aleix Espargaro took his best ever MotoGP finish when he beat Cal Crutchlow to second place by just 0.017s in a dramatic flag-to-flag race.

Crutchlow, then spending what would be his only season at the factory Ducati team, went on to make twelve further podium appearances - including three wins - for LCR Honda before retiring at the end of last year.

Meanwhile Espargaro, on the back of his impressive performances at Forward Yamaha in 2014, was signed by the returning factory Suzuki team for the next two seasons, before moving to back-of-the-grid Aprilia in 2017.

119 races after his Aragon podium, Espargaro's hard work and persistence with the RS-GP project finally paid off with third place at Silverstone, making history for Aprilia with its first rostrum of the MotoGP era in the process.

"Aleix? Thoroughly deserved. Great for him and his team," said Crutchlow, competing at Silverstone as a replacement for Espargaro's future team-mate Maverick Vinales at the factory Yamaha team.

"He’s shown over the years he is always there or there abouts. To finally get a podium is great.

"The problem for Aprilia or Aleix is that they haven't had a guy that been winning races and titles on their bike and Aleix has just given his all no matter what and it's great he's got the reward.

"Now they'll have a new rider and you'll see the reality - but Aleix will dig in, that’s what I love about him, and try to beat whoever his team-mate is."

At 32, Espargaro was due to become the oldest rider on the MotoGP grid next season following the retirement of Valentino Rossi, 42.

That 'honour' will now go to Andrea Dovizioso, 35. The triple title runner-up, who has spent 2021 doing some Aprilia testing after leaving Ducati, is due to join SRT Yamaha from Misano ahead of a full 2022 campaign.

That also means being reunited with Crutchlow, team-mate to Dovizioso at both Tech3 Yamaha (in 2012) and Ducati (2014) and set to continue as Yamaha test rider next season.

Wishing Dovizioso the best and looking forward to working with him again, Crutchlow, also 35, highlighted the 'big difference' between Dovi's former and future bikes.

While Ducati riders gain on the straights and try to limit the damage through the corners, Yamaha riders rely on cornering to make up for a lack of speed on the straights.

"I think it will be very different compared to what he is used to, which is a lot of power on the straight. Dovi is a great rider and a great guy and I think and hope he does very well," Crutchlow said.

"The good thing is some of the tests next year that I'll be at, he'll be at. We work in a similar way, we're different riders, but we have a great understanding of what is correct and what is not correct.

"I think he will be good and hopefully he can work it out. But I think he will feel a big, big difference to what he used to feel. He's been riding the Ducati for so long and the advantage he had on that bike is definitely not the advantage here [at Yamaha].

"It is not going to be easy, that’s sure. Let's see how he gets on. I'll be working with him as I do all the Yamaha riders and we'll understand the situation when he starts to ride."

A Yamaha rider in perfect sync with his motorcycle is Fabio Quartararo, who extended his world championship lead to 65 points with a fifth win of the season at Silverstone.

"Fabio, as we know, is riding the crest of a wave," said Crutchlow, who finished 17th in front of his home fans, but was still the second best Yamaha after Quartararo.

"He’s riding that bike in a great way, he has a lot of confidence on the corner entry, which is where I lose to him if we look at the data. That's normal. I’m not used to this bike with the limited time I’ve had on it.

"But he’s riding fantastic, it’s as simple as that. What he doing with the motorcycle is superb. I’m pleased for him and the team. He works hard and thoroughly deserves it.

"He hasn’t got the championship sewn-up, that’s for sure. Because it’s a long, long season from here as we saw Friday morning when he hurt his ankle, anything can happen.

"So we'll keep working hard, I'll keep working hard with him at the next race [Aragon] and then the tests and hopefully he'll continue in the way that he is."

After spending the upcoming Aragon round alongside Quartararo once again, 2022 signing Franco Morbidelli is due to take over from Crutchlow as Vinales' replacement for the rest of the season.