35 years ago McLaren built the world’s first carbon fiber Formula 1 car. It revolutionized the sport, and since then McLaren has not built a racing car or road car without a carbon chassis. We meet the designer of the MP4/1, John Barnard. A carbon-composite construction made McLaren’s car much more rigid than the competition while also being lighter and safer.
The MP4/1 was the very first F1 car built around a carbon-fiber monocoque, introduced at a time when every other team was still using aluminum. McLaren introduced the original MP4 after merging with the Project 4 team, bringing its chief Ron Dennis on board to call the shots.
The design made its debut in 1981, winning the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and served as the basis for the team’s design for the next three years. Niki Lauda won two Grand Prix’s behind the wheel of the subsequent MP4B. But more importantly, the carbon-fiber MP4 changed the face not only of racing, but of supercar design to follow.
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