The remainder of this season may be doubt following his suspension by Yamaha, but Maverick Vinales has been officially confirmed on the 2022 grid with a move to Aprilia.

While the Italian factory's RS-GP machine is much-improved this season, it is yet to break the top five and Aprilia thus remains the only manufacturer on the grid without a podium or victory in the MotoGP era.

The Vinales deal is a stunning coup for Aprilia, which couldn't even tempt a Moto2 rider at the end of last season, but has now signed a nine-time MotoGP race winner and currently the second-highest paid rider on the grid after Marc Marquez.

Vinales will be re-joining forces with former Suzuki team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who has matched the RS-GP's best finish of sixth place twice so far this season, plus a debut front row start.

The Spaniard has signed 'an annual contract with an option for renewal'.

"We are extremely happy to announce that we have signed Maverick Viñales, a very high-level rider and one of the purest talents in the premier category," said Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola.

"Our project has now been enriched with the value that Maverick brings - a World Champion who has confirmed his talent as a top rider in MotoGP - at a time of great change, after bringing a completely revamped bike to the track and having consistently established ourselves in the group of protagonists, we are also facing a switch in status as a Factory Team now, in order to take Aprilia to success

"We are honoured to be able to make all of our best skills available to Viñales along with our enthusiasm and our passion. I am confident that, like Aleix, he will embrace this extremely high-potential project. The arrival of Maverick in no way distances Lorenzo Savadori from the team, as he will remain an integral part of the Aprilia Racing family."

News suddenly broke on Saturday evening at Assen on June 26 that Vinales not only wanted to quit Yamaha halfway through his latest two-year contract, but that his destination would be Aprilia.

While new factory Yamaha team-mate Fabio Quartararo leads the world championship, Vinales appears to have lost faith in any technical turnaround after years of up-and-down form on the M1, which has seen him average two wins a season but never a sustained title challenge.

A last place finish at Sachsenring seemed to be the final straw and the awkward post-race 'celebrations' at Assen, after finishing second to Quartararo, proved a prelude to a post-race official split.

"The result from Sachsenring was very painful. It was disrespectful for myself as a rider. It’s difficult to forget, honestly," Vinales said at Assen. "I’ve never been in this position in my life, not even when I start racing. So, it was very painful. Honestly, it made me think a lot."

Yamaha and Vinales pledged to see out their final season together but an already tense situation took a dramatic twist when Vinales was suspended from the second Austrian round for deliberately over-revving his engine the previous weekend.

Vinales later apologised for failing to control his frustration after a series of technical problems, including a stall and pit lane start, but it remains to be seen if Yamaha will allow him back into the team and there are strong rumours test rider Cal Crutchlow will be alongside Quartararo next time at Silverstone.

Winner of the Qatar season-opener but then absent from the rostrum until Assen, Vinales was sixth in the world championship at the time of his suspension.

The #12's deal means that triple title runner-up Andrea Dovizioso, who has taken part in a series of tests for Aprilia this season, will not be returning to the MotoGP grid next year. It remains to be seen if Dovi will continue in a testing role, presumably alongside Savadori.

With Savadori currently injured, there will be speculation that Vinales might make an immediate Aprilia switch. But should Yamaha split from Vinales now, rather than at the end of the season, they would effectively surrender any hope of winning the teams' title and therefore triple crown...