Pull the driver’s door up and forward and the interior seems to float in a massive arc of polished carbon weave. The dash is simple, the elegant shapes formed from a cool satin-finish carbonfibre and sparingly trimmed in Alcantara. It’s not raw and ugly like, say, an F40, but there’s an economy about the architecture and it looks like a place of business. And then there’s the steering wheel. Modelled on the 2008 championship-winning MP4-23 F1 car’s, the chunky rectangular carbonfibre controller is a thing of real beauty and an extraordinary centrepiece to the driving environment. It’s actually tacky to the touch, almost like it’s coated in Blu-Tack. Driving gloves are never cool but this material is clearly designed for use with racing gloves, its gloopy texture feeling odd against bare skin. Fortunately, the width of the handles and the apertures that you wrap your fingers into feel utterly natural despite the alien shape.
There are 11 buttons and two three-position toggle switches to play with, but for now I just need the starter button. Push it twice to awaken the electrics, then press the brake pedal and stab the button one final time… The engine fires instantly, the electric motor taking the place of a conventional starter and creating a switch-like reaction. While you’re denied the time-honoured supercar drama of a high-pitched whizz followed by an evocative pause and then a big, tumbling explosion of cylinders, the P1 GTR makes up for it with a deep, booming idle that pours through the carbonfibre MonoCage. Yes, I could just go into E-mode, but time is short and there are 986 reasons that lead me to ignore that option.
Next I press the Active button to bring the toggle switches to life. They’re familiar from 12C, 650S, 675LT and P1, but rather than tuning the handling and powertrain respectively, here the left-hand switch simply controls the ESC settings and the right-hand one the Race Active Chassis Control setup. For today the suspension will stay in its least aggressive setting (the ride height, by the way, is fixed, unlike the road P1’s) and I’ll use the ESC’s base mode, with an exploratory few minutes in the more lenient one. ESC Off? Think that can wait for another day and a racetrack, don’t you?