Chris Harris drives the Porsche 919 Hybrid

The test drive process is simple enough: couple of sighter laps, pit, seven timed laps, pit, seven more timed laps. Then, I suspected at the time, head home with a slight dismissive 
view of all current hypercars. The 919 is all about procedure. The role of the driver in its performance is important, but the car is the star, and if the operator strays too far from the instruction manual, things go wrong. You enter over a high sill and wriggle down into a very small cabin.

I’m a chunky 5ft 7in gnome and I barely fit. The belts are pulled tight, and the absurdly complicated wheel sits close to your chest. There are only two pedals, the clutch is on the wheel, and a small push-button panel to your right carries sundry controls and the lights-of-doom. Put simply, the 919 is the electric eel of sports cars – mishandle it and it can kill you. Multiple safety-light panels offer either a green or red light. Green is good. Red means get out and jump clear of the machine.

Unwitting earthing will result in charred remains. Gulp. The radio is both your physical and emotional umbilical to the people and systems that allow the car to function. The race engineer calmly tells you to switch on the master switch and engage the hybrid mode. It really would be no surprise to learn that Dr Emmett Brown was conducting proceedings – the radio language of the 919 is all engage, hybrid and systems – it’s pure sci-fi for us civilians. And, of course, the 919 doesn’t just fire into life like any other car.

It creeps away under pure electric power with the clutch disengaged, then, at 62kph, you fire the motor and release the clutch. At this point you are in control of a 4WD high-downforce projectile pushing 900bhp and weighing less than 900kg.