With limited track experience dating back to a brief five-lap run in a Formula First (ask your parents...) around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, there is a mix of both trepidation and exhilaration as I climb aboard the McLaren, sliding myself down into the cockpit and finding everything immediately falling to hand. With the emphasis on learning the circuit's lines without too many distractions, a lot of the technical wizardry is set to auto, but one issue quickly becomes apparent – I can't read the speedometer!
Bright conditions mean sunglasses are a must, but the digital read-out on the dash becomes obscured, so I need to find a compromise if I am to confirm that I am exploring the full potential of the sleek white machine. Fortunately, any fears that I may not be pushing to the prescribed limits are quickly dispelled, although my delight then results in a missed braking point at the end of the back straight, and a quick visit to the ample run-off at turn twelve!
Six or seven laps proves too few to learn every nuance of the circuit, and it is particularly tough to remember the sequence through the esses, but the opportunity to drive CotA in a genuine supercar is one I'll never forget, especially powering past others on the approach to turn one.
Lewis Hamilton admitted that the signature corner 'probably looks more exciting from the outside than it does from inside the cockpit' but confirmed that 'it's certainly not easy, [as] it's tricky to get a perfect line through there....'
While I disagree with his first comment, I'd like to report, here and now, that the instructor me told me I'd nailed turn one. Once. And after the battery in the onboard camera had long run dry....