How do you deal with what must come next? I’d like to ease myself into the experience, but today McLaren is introducing the GTR to potential customers and apparently if you have two million quid to spend on one, that makes you more important than me. So I kick my foot to the floor and feel instantly, physically sick.
It’s what happens when your inner ear finds itself on the receiving end of something entirely unexpected. It’s not the extra power and torque that catch you out so much as what a set of soft slicks can do with it, namely dump the whole lot onto the hot Qatari asphalt.
Only now do you realise just how well and unobtrusively the normal P1’s traction systems work. But I can’t just sit here wondering why lunch is fighting back, because there’s work to be done.
So I start by driving at the same rate as I had earlier in the P1 road car, a pace beyond what almost anyone could imagine a car based on a street-legal design could manage. But in the GTR, it’s no kind of challenge at all.
I can sense the GTR getting bored, looking at its watch, wondering where Goodwin has gone. It doesn’t oversteer or understeer, or squirm around on rapidly melting tread blocks as the P1 does when driven like this. It just steers. It feels arcade-easy and, in that sense, actually less rather than more exhilarating than its sister with the numberplates.
Pushing harder makes it worse, because your ongoing inability to find its limit make feelings of inadequacy sprout like knotweed through the topsoil of your mind.
There you are, trying to ignore the supplications of your survival senses as you angle into a curve at some preposterous speed, and there is the P1 GTR, gently caressing the apex, lining up the exit and filing its nails as it does so.
So you have to stop. Get out, go for a walk, drink coffee, do anything but drive this bloody car. I thought that by now I’d be drunk on the power and performance; in fact, I’ve never felt more sober in my life. You have to look the issue in the eye and ask yourself if you’re still actually good enough to do this job, to drive this car in such a way as to be able to tell its story.
My only consolation is that Goodwin is not surprised by my reaction, and nor is Parry-Williams, who is kind enough to tell me that he actually forgot to breathe when he first drove it. It’s that sort of car.
When I climb into my carbonfibre saddle for the second time, though, it’s as if McLaren has replaced the car with the P1 GTR I’d dreamt of all along. I’ll not be the first to note that the brain is a remarkable organ, and given just a little time to process the glut of information that it has just been fed, it can deploy its near-infinite capacity to adapt to its surroundings.
So this time I am neither scared nor nauseated by being turned into a human cannonball every time I press the throttle, merely exhilarated beyond what I imagined the capacity of a road car might be, however comprehensively modified for a track-only environment.
Now the P1 has put down its knitting and, as proper loads flow through its suspension and over its wings, started to talk back. Steering that had seemed aloof is flooded with feel, and as we hammer from turn to turn, it’s telling me the car is starting to slide. Yet this is not frightening but reassuring. Now I know where the limit is, and I like what I’m hearing.