Matt Parry’s first taste of Formula One (F1) action has only whetted the 20-year-old’s appetite for more in the future after his Silverstone test.
The former County Upper School pupil roared around the home of British motorsport in a race-winning McLaren from 2011 — his prize for being named the country’s best young driver in 2013.
It marked the culmination of a monumental rise for Parry, who lifted the Intersteps title in 2012 and Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup 12 months later, and he hopes his next outing in an F1 car will be as a fully-fledged member of the grid.
“It was just phenomenal,” said the Welsh-born racer. “Trying to get my head around it in the first two or three laps was just amazing.
“The power throughout the whole car in terms of going up the gears is incredible — you’re still pulling really hard in seventh gear.
“Approaching Stowe corner at just over 310 kilometres per hour was just unreal.
“I’d like to thank everyone at the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award for this fantastic opportunity — I’m gutted I can’t do it again next year.”
He added: “This is definitely where I want to be and only extends my desire to be in Formula One.
“These cars are the best in the world and it’s certainly something I want to do.
“McLaren have been phenomenal in making me feel so welcome and hopefully I’ll be back one day.”
Parry arrived at Silverstone on Monday to find the car he was set to drive — the one that won Jenson Button the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix — was suffering from a technical fault, putting his running back from 11am until 3pm.
But it was well worth the wait as, with girlfriend Rosie and several members of his family and friends in tow, he pulled out of the garage on to the circuit for his slow installation lap to calibrate the computer system.
“My first big worry was stalling as I came out of the garage with everybody watching,” he said. “I got out all right though and down the pit lane — as soon as I was feeling the pace, I was happy in the car and just wanted more laps to take even more speed.”
Once he was ready to go out again, he completed four more runs of three laps each, tackling the famous corners — such as Copse, Stowe, Maggotts and Becketts — on the Northamptonshire circuit with as much vigour as he dared, while pushing 200 miles per hour along Hanger Straight.
“It was more than I expected,” said Parry. “I don’t think I could put into words how fast the car is.
“If I got into a rocket, maybe that would be similar pace — it was just phenomenal.
“Nothing on the road or anything I’ve driven before even comes remotely close.”
Parry may have endured a difficult 2014 and was only able to finish 11th in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, but he has high hopes for the 2015 campaign — although they are yet to be finalised.
For the time being, Parry was content to bask in his dream-come-true moment of becoming an F1 driver, but still remembered his roots fondly.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank County Upper for all the understanding and all the time off to pursue my dream,” he said. “I think it’s paid off that I’ve actually been in a Formula One car and hopefully they recognise that achievement and feel happy they were able to give me that opportunity of missing so much school. I’d also like to thank everyone in Bury who has given me support — it’s where my mum lives and where I was schooled, so it’s a place close to my heart.”