Since making his MotoGP debut in 2008 Andrea Dovizioso, who replaces Valentino Rossi as the oldest rider on the premier-class grid, has ridden for four different factories.

The Italian started off at Honda, spent 2012 at Tech3 Yamaha, moved to Ducati in 2013, took part in some Aprilia tests in the early part of 2021, then raced for Petronas Yamaha in the final five rounds of last season.

Those SRT appearances were as a precursor to a full 2022 campaign on the latest factory-spec M1 with the replacement RNF Yamaha team, which held its official launch in Verona, Italy, on Monday evening.

"I think already in 2020 MotoGP changed a lot. And that continued in 2021," said Dovizioso, who had battled Marc Marquez for the title from 2017-2019, before slipping to a single race win in his final Ducati season.

Meanwhile, the Italian's former championship rival Marquez was sidelined by injury throughout 2020, then the start and finish of 2021, as new stars such as Joan Mir, Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia emerged.

"In MotoGP there is always change, because there is a big development of riders, bikes, everything. Every year is like that. So I'm not surprised to be surprised!" added Dovizioso.

"[But] the biggest change was more in 2020. 2020 was a strange season for many reasons. The championship, Covid… but I believe the biggest reason was the new casing of the rear tyre, but maybe I'm wrong."

The #4 picked up where he left off at Ducati in trying to understand and adapt to the softer rear tyre construction, as well as the Yamaha, when he returned to MotoGP race action from Misano last season.

Dovizioso took a best finish of twelfth on the ex-Franco Morbidelli 2019 A-Spec bike, but didn't fall once from the machine as he methodically worked on understanding the character of the M1 after eight seasons on a Desmosedici (then a handful of tests for Aprilia).

"The new rear tyre casing that arrived in 2020 changed the way you have to brake especially - also with the Yamaha, you have to use the balance of the two tyres in a different way," Dovizioso explained.

"I still think I can use that balance in a better way. Still I don’t feel comfortable when I'm braking, I don’t feel that I'm using the full potential of the tyres and the bike.

"I was improving a lot in the last two races of last season, but I changed completely in the way I was braking, compared to Ducati, because the Yamaha requests different things. And that also helped me to adapt to the new casing from 2020.

"The way you have to ride the Yamaha at the moment is not natural for me."

Dovizioso then finished his debut on the 2022 M1 prototype with the 13th fastest lap time at last November's Jerez test, 1.2s from Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia but just over half-a-second from the fastest Yamaha of reigning champion Quartararo.

One of the most difficult parts for Dovizioso is deciding which of his old strengths can be compatible with the DNA of the M1.

"I have to adapt more for sure, because when you have something big about the DNA of the bike you have to follow the characteristic of the bike. But I think you have to keep a few things of your strengths, so still I'm working on the small details to try to mix these two things."

That was also how Dovizioso believes former Ducati team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was eventually successful on the Desmosedici.

"Jorge started to be competitive when, in my opinion, he changed his approach and didn't try to ride like at Yamaha, but still took something of his riding style," Dovi said.

"That's why I think it's very important to adapt because with the MotoGP of today - tyres, brakes, electronics, chassis – it's quite clear what you have to do on every bike.

"But every rider has different talent and different experience. And everybody has something special. So you have to try to use your way to ride. But you have to understand how much the [correct] percentage is of that."

Dovizioso will continue that quest when he climbs back on his WithU-liveried M1 for the upcoming Sepang test from February 5-6. That will be swiftly followed by the Mandalika test before the 24-time grand prix winner begins his 20th season of full time world championship competition at Qatar in early March.

"I mean I can't be happy to be the oldest on the grid! This is not positive!" laughed the 35-year-old. "But I'm happy, if I'm here at this age this means I worked in the right way in my career and the people that worked with me helped me a lot to constantly improve. This I can be proud of and thank all the people that worked with me."

Team boss Razlan Razali told Crash.net recently that Dovizioso could be title contender this season.

"I think it would be difficult because the level is so high and still - because we have to do the tests – we don’t know how the situation will be for our bike compared to the other bikes," said Dovizioso.

"Because the rules are now open again for engine [development], for everything. So everything can happen and nobody knows. I don’t want to say 'yes' [but] I'm here to try to do that - and I don’t think I will have this year to use like a learning year!"

Indeed, like rookie team-mate Darryn Binder and the RNF team itself, Dovizioso is currently on a one-year Yamaha deal.

"Everything is always related about the results," Dovizioso said of his future beyond this season, echoing the words of Valentino Rossi, the rider he now replaces as the oldest on the grid.

"So if the results will be very good, it's not a problem! If the results are not that good, it is what it is.

"I'm completely relaxed in this situation. I don’t have contract for next year but I don’t want a contract in this moment for next year because I don’t know in this moment what I would like to do.

"But for sure everything is related about the results because if you are fast, you enjoy. If you are not fast, you don’t enjoy. Especially in my moment of career."