McLaren’s Formula One ace Jenson Button took time out from his busy schedule to drive the company’s new P1 supercar at its dynamic debut at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed this past weekend. Button not only drove the car but raced it up the event’s famous hill climb where he managed to set a time of 53 seconds, which isn’t too shabby considering the course record stands at 41.6 seconds, as set by Nick Heidfeld back in 1999 in another McLaren, the MP4-13 F1 race car.

Looking its best, at least to this author’s eyes, in full black, the P1 used on the day was a production-spec car, though we know it doesn’t belong to the 2009 world champion. Button candidly admits he won’t be given one of the 375 P1s planned for production, though he may end up buying one. Incidentally, he just took delivery of a 12C Spider at his home in Monaco. 

He certainly was pleased with the P1's performance after driving it, admitting it was a bit rough on the bumps when in track mode, but very grippy and quite quick. He also seemed impressed that the car produces GT3 race car levels of downforce--up to 1,320 pounds at speed.

As mentioned, only 375 McLaren P1s will be built, each priced from $1.15 million. This gets you a plug-in hybrid supercar capable of accelerating to 60 mph from rest in under 3.0 seconds, pass 124 mph in under 7.0 seconds, and close on 186 mph in no more than 17 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 217.5 mph.

We say it's a plug-in hybrid as owners will be able to charge their P1s at home and drive it on electric power alone for short distances, although don’t expect the performance in this mode to come anywhere close to that when the car’s twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 is engaged. Combined output is an astonishing 903 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque.

As the videos confirm, the P1 has plenty of grunt and sounds ferocious at full tilt. For full details on the car be sure to check our in-depth report.

Note, the P1 wasn’t the only McLaren making its dynamic debut this past weekend. The company also showed off a new 12C GT Sprint track car and celebrated its 50th anniversary with a showing of some of its most historic race cars.

For more from the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, click here.


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