If Aprilia have a race winning package in 2022, then expect Aleix Espargaro to lead the team’s charge after Maverick Vinales remained a long way off his team-mate during the Qatar MotoGP. 

Vinales, who has won at least one race in each of the last six MotoGP seasons, a stat that’s currently best among all current riders, finds himself still adapting to Aprilia’s new 2022 RS-GP machine. 

Moving on from Yamaha after five-and-a-half seasons with the Japanese manufacturer - before that he spent two years with Suzuki (also an inline-four engine) - the switch from an inline-four to a V4, which is the first time he’s done so in the premier class, along with the difference in how the bike generates its peak performance has seen Vinales make a slow start to his time at Aprilia.

And sadly for the Spaniard, Qatar was much of the same following two pre-season tests where the nine-time MotoGP race winner looked very strong, something he’s been known to do. 

Speaking after his P12 finish, Vinales concluded: "This is obviously a disappointing result. This is certainly not in line with my expectations or the team’s, but I never had the right feeling with the front end and going into corners. 

"We’ve got a lot of work to do. We need to get to know this bike better. We had some feelings in the tests that we evidently need to find again. 

"I didn't make any mistakes in the race and I didn't have any significant drop in tyre performance, but I didn't manage to have a good pace either. 

"This is not what we want or what we know we are able to achieve."

Having spent the final five rounds of 2021 with Aprilia, expectation was that Vinales could challenge for significant points, especially given his record in Lusail - has two wins which is tied with Andrea Dovizioso as the most among current riders. 

However, that turned out not to be the case as he was instead 21 seconds off team-mate Espargaro who claimed P4.