Three-time MotoGP title runner-up Dovizioso was ousted from the factory Ducati squad at the end of last year and elected to take a sabbatical after turning down a race ride with Aprilia.
With the 2021 RS-GP immediately proving to be a strong package, Dovizioso requested two private tests with Aprilia before signing on for a full test schedule in 2021 with the Italian marque.
Taking a sabbatical this year with a view to making a full-time return to MotoGP in 2022, his tests with Aprilia were seen as a warm-up to joining the team next season.
However, Maverick Vinales now looks set to take the second Aprilia seat in 2022 after requesting to have his two-year Yamaha deal terminated at the end of 2021.
Espargaro has famously cited Dovizioso as his favourite rider in MotoGP and hopes to emulate at Aprilia what the Italian did at Ducati, but revealed that Dovizioso doesn’t look like he wants to race in 2022.
“Dovizioso has done some tests with us,” Espargaro told DAZN. “So far he has not been very competitive and it seems that he does not want to race.
“I am a big fan of his, but it is difficult for him to be my teammate.”
Due to being a concession manufacturer, Aprilia is able to freely test privately with its race line-up.
Already spearheading development of the RS-GP during race weekends, Espargaro wants a “stronger partner” at the team to help share the load.
“It is difficult to develop the bike because you have to try new things,” Espargaro added.
“Aprilia wanted me to do some tests during the summer holidays and go to the windtunnel.
“It would help me if I had a stronger partner, or if there was a satellite team because that way they could spread the work over more shoulders and collect more data.”
Aprilia had been evaluating supplying a satellite team with bikes for 2022, but will continue to field just its two factory team bikes next year after VR46 and Gresini elected to partner with Ducati.