Make no mistake: The challenge facing Fernando Alonso at Indy 500 is huge

Fernando Alonso has made some poor decisions and you have to hope this is not one of them.

There is a lot of romantic idealism being attached to Alonso's entry in the forthcoming Indy 500; memories of Jim Clark adding victory at the Brickyard to his F1 championship year in 1965; photos of victorious Indy McLarens from four decades ago.

The reality is that he has taken on a very tough challenge with obstacles that not even the Spaniard's undeniable talent will be able to overcome. Alonso may feel that anything is better than driving a McLaren-Honda MCL32 right now but, as his new boss Michael Andretti confirms, Fernando is going to be in the thick of it right from the start of his fast-tracked attack on one of motor sport's unique contests.

The understandable welcome that accompanies Indycar's delight at having lured a F1 star away from Monaco could quickly turn into condescension if the double World Champion fails to pass muster in such specialised company. There's nothing the old hands at Indy quietly enjoy more than having (in their view) pampered Grand Prix stars publically receive their come-uppance.

That's not a reflection on Alonso or his ability; it's more a product of limited running and experience in oval racing conditions that go beyond having a wall as a constant and towering threat on the right-hand side.

Simulator time will not provide knowledge of adapting his driving style to even the smallest change of wind direction, temperature or humidity; unseen factors at 200 mph that make dealing with superspeedways in general, and this iconic oval in particular, such a delicate and specific art.

Alonso talks of the F1-Indy-Le Mans Triple Crown; an exceptional career peak conquered by just one man. Graham Hill was fortunate to taste the winner's milk at Indianapolis in 1966 -- as Jackie Stewart will remind you when recalling a certain victory denied the Scotsman by mechanical trouble -- but Hill went on to win Le Mans when he was 43, a relatively ageless provision in racing terms that is in Alonso's favour.

His request to take part at Le Mans in 2015 was turned down by McLaren but this decision to allow their lead driver to take arguably bigger risks in the month of May is perhaps more easily understood - even if it would never have been allowed under the parochial and pedantic rule of Ron Dennis.

Alonso will relish the tempting possibility -- never say never, as last year's rookie Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi will tell you - to win a race for the first time since Spain in 2013. The thought of it will ease the frustration that comes each time he presses the MCL32 throttle pedal to the floor and a Ferrari breezes past. It will also, for the moment, stem the flow of withering radio messages that are the vocal realisation of another year and another F1 championship swirling down an ever-lengthening pan.

That's how bad things are at McLaren-Honda. It has to be hoped that this decision does not go down as a move driven by political expediency at the expense of a fine racer's reputation. But there's no denying it will be as fascinating to follow as the first foray of F1 heroes to Indiana more than 50 years before.

Good luck, Fernando. You'll need it.