The nerves set in about three days beforehand. Up until the phone call, I’d been telling myself the P1 GTR was just a car. A car with four wheels, an engine, two seats and a steering wheel. Practically a Mazda MX-5. What was there to be intimidated by? But then my memory bank would churn a bit, “You’ve driven a McLaren P1”, it would say, “was that just a car? Let me twang a few nerve endings to remind you what 900bhp felt like through the rear wheels on a damp road.” And I’d have to confess to myself that, no, the P1 had more in common with an especially volatile and creatively destructive piece of military hardware than a car.
And then McLaren phoned up. “We’re going to send someone down to show you the ropes, tell you what’s what, give it a bit of a demo run for you”. Someone, in other words, to hold my hand, someone to make sure I don’t sling £2 million worth of race-bred, track-ready hypercar into the wall at Turn 1 on the Red Bull Ring (far more likely to be Turn 3, actually – the downhill braking zone there is an utter nightmare). “Anyway,” the voice continued – and I could tell he was building up to something here, “Bruno Senna will be flying into…”