With both the Monaco Grand Prix and Indy 500 at Indianapolis on the horizon this week, the next seven days could be historic within the world of Motorsport. For one man in particular, it could be the stuff of dreams.
For one race and one race only, Spanish legend and two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso is swapping the luxurious F1 paddock for the rough and ready IndyCar garages. His goal is to win the fabled Indy 500 on his first and only attempt and join the incredibly exclusive club of drivers to win at both Monaco and Indianapolis.
This is by no means an easy task. Or a safe one for that matter. If ever you need a reminder of how much more dangerous IndyCar is compared to Formula 1, watch Sebastian Bourdais horrifying crash during qualifying over the past weekend.
In F1, should you lose the back-end of your car, there's usually ample room to correct the manoeuvre and avoid a race-ending crash. In IndyCar, no such space exists. Lose control of the car and you're heading nose first into the unforgiving walls. Not only will your race be over, there's a chance your career and even your life could go with it.
If you think that's hyperbole, read the horrific injuries that Bourdais sustained on Sunday; a fractured pelvis and a broken right hip. Just before the crash, he'd recorded a fastest lap with a top speed of 231 miles an hour. His impact with the wall at over 200mph makes it a minor miracle that he walked away with comparatively minor injuries. It's also a testament to the safety standards that IndyCar adheres to in modern times. In years gone by, perhaps as recent as last decade, the walls would not have been so forgiving and we may well have been talking about another motorsport fatality.
For Fernando Alonso, it's a stark reminder that this is an incredibly difficult race to win. He's taking to the division like a duck to water, however, and ex-teammate Lewis Hamilton has declared him the most talented driver in the IndyCar paddock. However, no skill can make up for a lack of experience at this track. He's recorded laps over the three figures in testing and qualifying, but race day will be entirely different. If he wins here this Sunday, it'll surely be one of the sport's biggest achievements and would represent two-thirds of the fabled motoring triple crown: Monaco race winner, Indy 500 race winner and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Graham Hill is the only driver to have claimed all three wins. 17 more have tried and failed. Juan Pablo Montoya is the only active driver to have claimed two of the three, Le Mans being the only one to have eluded him.