After a mid-season split from Yamaha, then sitting out Austria 2 and Silverstone, Maverick Vinales will be back on the MotoGP grid for his Aprilia race debut this weekend in Aragon.

The nine-time premier-class race winner had already agreed to join the Italian factory for 2022 prior to his suspension by Yamaha, but now has the chance to complete this season on the RS-GP, which took its first MotoGP podium in the hands of Aleix Espargaro at Silverstone.

Vinales' introduction to the bike, during a private test at Misano, was promising. The 26-year-old, who confessed to being "nervous" ahead of his first experience on a V4 engine, reported no major issues in adapting to the RS-GP while his best lap of 1m 32.4s matched his fastest lap on the way to victory at the circuit last season.

There is clearly still a lot for Vinales to learn about the Aprilia, most notably in braking, and the RS-GP remains the only machine on the grid yet to win a race. But Espargaro lost just 0.2s a lap to Vinales' former team-mate and title leader Fabio Quartararo at Silverstone and Aragon has been a successful venue for Aprilia in the past.

"Coming from a podium is the best time to join the team and try to give them the feedback," Vinales said.

"For sure Aleix and Savadori made an amazing job because they ride very fast and the bike is working well. I was quite surprised because the adaptation to the bike has been quite fast."

Vinales, winner of the Qatar season-opener before returning to the podium for the final time with Yamaha at Assen, revealed that the Aprilia team is not completely new to him.

"When I was riding in 125 I was riding with Aprilia and I know most of the [team members] since 2011, some even before that from the Spanish championship," he explained.

Looking to the Aragon weekend, Vinales said: "I can't wait to get back on the track. The chance to do that straight away is definitely important, especially in view of preparing for the 2022 season.

"I might not be 100% ready after only two days of testing, but being on track with the others and being able to compare notes with Aleix, who is doing great things, will help me improve my feeling with the RS-GP.

"The Aprilia staff is highly motivated. I sensed a lot of enthusiasm and a desire to grow which is just more motivation for me to jump into the mix straight away.

"I will push at my maximum already from the first lap in Aragon."

Also pushing to the maximum will be Espargaro.

The Spaniard has been Aprilia's top rider in the world championship since joining the factory in 2017.

The last time Espargaro was consistently beaten by a team-mate was when riding alongside Vinales at Suzuki in 2016, but will he be able to turn the tables on his good friend this time around?

"Aragón is a track that I like a lot. I always feel good here, no matter what the conditions are," Espargaro said of the Spanish circuit where he twice equalled Aprilia's previous best MotoGP result of sixth place.

"This year, we are arriving with a particular spirit - that much is clear - after an important result and with high expectations, but our goal remains the same. We must stay focused and keep working race after race.

"We know we can battle for the top positions and the podium in Silverstone simply confirmed that."

With Vinales moving straight into the race team, rookie Lorenzo Savadori - forced to withdraw from Silverstone due to his healing foot injuries from Austria - will revert to testing and wild-card rides.