With Aramco and now Ducati officially on-board, riders are the last remaining major piece in the VR46 MotoGP team puzzle.

Or make that rider.

It's certain that Luca Marini will stay to take one of the seats, as VR46 expands from running the Italian's side of the Avintia garage to a fully-fledged premier-class project of its own.

And Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, representing Aramco, has made clear who he would like to see alongside Marini:

"It would be fantastic for me if Valentino Rossi could compete in the next few years as a rider in our Aramco Racing Team VR46 together with his brother Luca Marini."

Whether Rossi will indeed headline his own team remains to be seen, but Marini is happy to continue building on his rookie-season relationship with Ducati.

"It's great to continue with Ducati because I think that this year my feeling with the bike improved a lot and also I worked with a lot of great people at Ducati and it's nice to continue with them because I feel a very good atmosphere," Marini said.

"So I'm really ready and curious about next year but for sure now I have to be focussed on the rest of this season, to improve and finish in the best way, to be a better rider next season."

As well as the identity of Marini's team-mate, the specification of the VR46 Desmosedicis remains to be confirmed.

The Gresini team, also joining Ducati next season, is set to use this year's GP21s but it is rumoured that VR46 is pushing to have the very latest GP22s for at least one of its riders.

"I don’t know yet if they speak about the spec of the bike but I hope to have the most competitive bike from Ducati, because I think that we can be stronger," said Marini, who like team-mate Enea Bastianini presently uses a two-year-old GP19.

"Now the level in MotoGP is incredible, so if you want to compete at the top and stay in the first position you need also to have a very good technical package and I hope to have the best compromise that we can have from Ducati.

"For sure Uccio is pushing a lot to Gigi [Dall’Igna] to have the best, because knowing very well VR46 they want to do this project at the best, so I'm quite sure that we will have a very good technical package.

"Starting a new project in MotoGP will be a very great challenge but I hope to compete at the top level and that we can become one of the best teams in MotoGP, like we did in Moto2.

"I think VR46 have a very good work method. They know very well this world and I think we can be very strong in the future."

Marini has scored 14 points during the first half of the 2021 MotoGP season, putting him third out of the four rookies behind team-mate Bastianini (27 points), Pramac Ducati's Jorge Martin (23 points, but missed four rounds due to injury) and Aprilia's Lorenzo Savadori (4 points).

Should Rossi decline the VR46 race seat, the team's Moto2 rider Marco Bezzecchi is tipped for the ride. Maverick Vinales is now also on the market, but all the signs are that the current Factory Yamaha rider will join Aprilia.