Last-start victor Nico Rosberg is seeking to complete a rare hat-trick of successive Formula One wins in Monaco this weekend.
The 29-year-old ended a spell in the shadow of his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, cutting the Briton’s lead from 27 points to 20.
A repeat in Sunday’s classic race around his hometown streets will confirm his return to form and add his name to a revered list of Monte Carlo victors.
Not since Brazilian Ayrton Senna won five in a row from 1989-93 has any driver won three back-to-back at Monaco.
Frenchman Alain Prost won three successive races from 1984 to 1986, and again in 1988, a feat that endorsed the era of his rivalry with Senna as one of the greatest.
Before them, only Briton Graham Hill managed the feat, winning thrice from 1963-65.
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher won the race five times in all, but never three times in a row.
All of which leaves Rosberg on the cusp of a potentially famous achievement as he attempts to rein in Hamilton, who has won three of this year’s five opening races.
Last year, Rosberg triumphed ahead of Hamilton after a controversial off-road excursion during qualifying left the Englishman fuming amid a variety of conspiracy rumours.
It set the tone for an acrimonious period of rivalry between the two, a spell that Rosberg would be happy to usher in again if it goes with another memorable Monaco win.
Hamilton, however, has other ideas as he strives for only his second win on a circuit he loves.
“I am more than ever looking forward to this one, I really am,” said Hamilton, whose future with Mercedes is expected to be confirmed this weekend.
“I’ve not won in Monaco for a long, long time – I’ve only won it once – so this is going to be my third chance with this great team and with a great car. So hopefully third time lucky.”
The race will be important for Manor Marussia as it marks the anniversary of their only points-scoring finish, achieved last year when Frenchman Jules Bianchi came home ninth.
Bianchi remains in hospital in Nice recovering from his life-threatening crash during the Japanese Grand Prix last October.
“Without question, it will be emotional,” said the team’s sporting director Graeme Lowdon.
“There will be some difficult personal moments for everybody, primarily because of Jules, of course, but also because it was such a memorable weekend.”
Pirelli will this weekend give the teams a new compound of super-soft tyres, designed to help allow overtaking in the classic 78-lap contest.