Andrea Dovizioso may have enjoyed the greatest success of his MotoGP career with Ducati, winning 14 MotoGP races and finishing title runner-up three times, but it is memories of a previous bike that inspired his return to racing action from this weekend at Misano.

Dropped by Repsol Honda after one win in three seasons, Dovizioso switched to the satellite Tech3 Yamaha team for 2012.

In those days, satellite bikes were significantly below factory team specification, yet Dovizioso instantly gelled with the smooth character of the inline four-cylinder M1.

The Italian went on to revive, some might even say save, his MotoGP career with six podiums and fourth overall in the world championship for Herve Poncharal's team, behind Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and Casey Stoner (Honda).

It would be the best ever MotoGP season by a Tech3 Yamaha rider and best by any satellite Yamaha rider until fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli's 2020 Petronas heroics. But with no room at the official Yamaha team for 2013, Dovizioso signed to take over from Valentino Rossi at the struggling Ducati factory.

Dovizioso and Ducati clawed their way back to the front, culminating in the 2017-2018-2019 title challenges against the might of Marc Marquez and Honda.

Despite the Ducati success, upon being officially presented as a Petronas Yamaha rider on Thursday, Dovizioso revealed he never forget the pivotal 2012 season on the M1.

"2020 didn’t end well. So I was feeling good at home, doing what I liked and I was a bit more relaxed," Dovizioso said of his sabbatical. "But when the [Petronas Yamaha] door opened, I thought about that and I couldn't say no.

"Because already after 2012, after a good year in a satellite situation, my dream was to be in the factory Yamaha team, and that didn't happen. So that thing remained in my mind. And to have this chance now, after eight years with the same bike, it's something I really wanted to do.

"And that [Yamaha] was my bike. I don't want to say, 'with that bike I will be stronger, faster, the best'. But as a rider, you have your idea, you have your feeling when you race for a lot of years against other manufacturers. And it's something I really wanted to do.

"For sure it's more a risk than a possibility to do good, in my opinion a lot of people see it like that. But I don't care, I race for me, I race because I have the passion to race. I'm really interested to feel and to ride with a completely different bike, different brand. I will take that risk, and I don't have any problem about that."

Many laps have passed since Dovizioso's previous season on the M1, including MotoGP technical changes such as a single ECU, control Michelin tyres and aerodynamics, but Dovizioso feels the broad character of the bike should be similar.

"I will let you know. I expect a similar situation. I think the approach of the Japanese is different to the Europeans, and they normally don't change a lot. But I don't know."

Dovizioso will finish this season on the ex-Morbidelli 2019-spec bike, using the remaining five races and two tests to prepare for a full 2022 campaign on the latest factory-spec machinery.

Morbidelli took the ageing A-Spec to one podium prior to knee surgery in June, but his replacements – Garrett Gerloff, Cal Crutchlow and Jake Dixon – didn't trouble the points.

"I can't know how strong my bike is for these next five rounds, and I'm not worried about that," Dovizioso said. "First because I don't have to fight for something about the championship and the result, and the important thing is in our deal was to have a factory bike for next year, factory support and we achieved that.

"After 8 years with the same bike, it will take time to adapt. The important thing for this year is to feel good on the bike position-wise and understand the bike. Because for sure I will have to ride in a very different way than the previous one.

"When I feel comfortable with the position on the bike, I can start to push and give my feedback. And we will see.

"MotoGP now I think for a few reasons is very tight. Even the last rider is so fast and very close to the first rider, speed-wise, so it's very difficult. But I know that, and I'm not worried in this moment about that."

Dovizioso endured a tough final season at Ducati as he and the Italian factory battled to understand the character of the softer rear Michelin tyre construction.

"From last year, the championship changed a lot," he said. "The only big change was the casing of the rear tyre. For sure, that affected a lot. Plus there are the new generation of riders who start immediately with a really good speed.

"But I don't know if the new casing helps [them] a bit, because it looks like you have to stop the bike less, and make more speed in the middle of the corner, like Moto2, like smaller championships.

"This is my opinion, but I'm not sure about that, and to be able to ride a completely different bike, maybe will help me to understand this and realize what I have to change the most about riding style.

"Because last year when there was that change, I struggled a lot, from the first test to the last race. And I couldn't really improve enough to use the potential of the tyre. But this bike is completely different, and we will see."

Speaking to friend, former team-mate and current Yamaha test rider Crutchlow had been helpful, in a way!

"Everybody knows Cal. I spoke with Cal for one hour in Aragon, I was laughing for one hour!" Dovizioso said. "It's difficult to speak with Cal, also because we battled in the past, in Yamaha, in Ducati, he was always screaming and laughing.

"He explained a bit about the differences between the 2019 bike and the 2021. Looks quite clear, every rider says the same things, but like I said in this moment, I'm not worried about that, because my change is bigger than just the difference between the bikes.

"On paper, the engine is much slower [on the 2019] and OK, that is not easy, but anyway. I'm focused about adapting, about the position, because the size of the bike is a bit different. And for sure the riding style, there is a big difference."

Morbidelli - who has been promoted to the factory team, in a mid-season reshuffle caused by the departure of Maverick Vinales – hinted that his Petronas crew chief Ramon Forcada could join him at the factory team next season.

However, Dovizioso said: "The team will be same this year and next year. Everyone speaks good about Ramon; he is a champion engineer and has a lot of experience of this bike. It's perfect for me."

Dovizioso's Petronas arrival also means he will be Rossi's last MotoGP team-mate, with the nine-time world champion hanging up his leathers at the end of this season.

When Rossi leaves, Dovizioso will become the oldest rider on the grid in 2022.

"To be team-mate of Valentino is something special, not just because he won a lot of titles, but as everybody knows, he's a special person. It's not about just a champion. He's charismatic, he's a special person," Dovizioso said.

"So I'm happy to be his team-mate. It's not the best moment to be his teammate, about speed, because in the past he won a lot of titles, and I will start from zero, so I don't think we will fight for the victory.

"Maybe I can do the over-35 championship against Valentino!" Dovizioso joked.

Since leaving Ducati, Dovizioso's only MotoGP action has been several tests for Aprilia.

"Massimo [Rivola, Aprilia Racing CEO he's a really good person, but he pushed me to try the bike, try the bike, try the bike, and at the end, he won!" Dovizioso smiled. "Also my manager pushed for that, because it was a good idea, for both.

"But I didn't approach it to race [for Aprilia]. I'm quite straight and I know what I want. So there wasn't the situation I wanted. Not because the Aprilia wasn't good, because they are showing how good this bike is, and immediately when I tried this bike, I told them, 'the base of this bike is really good'.

"Now in MotoGP, even if you have a good bike you have to work on a lot of details to make a podium and win races. But they showed how good the project is this season, and Aleix is using the potential of the bike."

Dovizioso will make his Petronas Yamaha debut, and Morbidelli his first Monster Yamaha laps, on Friday morning.