In the likely event you’re one of the 14 drivers who don't manage to get that front position on track, then you have to make sure you have a clear track in front of you before you start your hot lap. Which means either going for it from the off and getting past the people ahead of you, or holding back to find some room.
Either scenario brings tyres immediately into the equation: you don’t want to push too hard on cold tyres and risk going off, but you still want to make sure the tyres are up to temperature for when you do get the space to start pushing.
You also have to keep an eye on the clock. Twenty minutes sounds plenty in the garage, equating to eight or nine timed laps around the full Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in a Radical SR1, but once you've done a couple of tours to get everything warm and had a couple more that have to be aborted due to traffic or mistakes, time soon goes.
In the SR1 Cup, your best lap in qualifying is your grid position for race one and your second best lap is your grid position for race two, so there’s even more to get done in your 20 minutes. They’re long laps too. Did I mention the pressure was on?
In the end, race one qualifying got an eighth place on the grid and race two was seventh, in a field of 15. Some, including yours truly, were complete rookies, while others were in their second year of the championship.
After qualifying, there was time for an extensive war council session with Radical expert Roger Bromiley, the man with the unenviable task of improving me as a racing driver. As well as a debrief on qualifying, there was a lengthy - and eye-opening - discussion on race tactics.
As with qualifying, the race actually starts much sooner than crossing the line for the first time. The warm-up lap also plays a crucial part in this; there’s time for a practice start as you get off the grid, then it is straight into hard acceleration before hard braking in straight lines to start to get heat in the brakes and tyres.
Once a bit of heat is there, the weaving from side to side on the track starts. This isn’t just for show; the violent movements from side to side, covering around half the width of the track, gets further crucial heat into those tyres.
Throw in some psychological tactics, such as getting up alongside or in front of the bloke ahead of you on the grid to let him know you’re there, and ‘accidentally’ stopping in the wrong grid box to allow a further practice start, and you should be ready for a good start, providing those nerves don’t get the better of you.
The start, then, is something that requires impeccable clutch control. You hold the revs at around 9000rpm, and then gradually feed it in to ensure a smooth getaway, rather than dumping it and spinning the wheels, at the risk of stalling.
From eighth on the grid in race one, my start was slow and cumbersome, but off the line I went, on the inside of the track, with no immediate danger to being passed (or indeed passing someone for that matter).
Until, of course, the ‘incident’ at turn one occurred. There was little drama to what caused it; it was an inexperienced driver who hadn’t managed to warm up the tyres properly taking a corner on too tight an angle. Lesson learned and I was down, if not quite out completely.
While the contact that followed the spin - as one car collected the rear wing and the right rear corner of bodywork of our SR1 - had a significant impact on the aerodynamic performance on the straights and downforce through the high-speed corners, the wheels and suspension were fine, and nothing was hanging off that could possibly incur in a black flag for a mechanical defect.