Meet the carbon-fiber F1 racer that started it all

We take it for granted that Formula One racing cars are made from carbon fiber. But that wasn't always the case, of course. And as with any revolution, this one had to start somewhere. Enter the McLaren MP4/1. It 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 (at Marlboro's behest) 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 that year and serving as the basis for the team's design for the next three years. Niki Lauda won two grands prix 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.

Little wonder then that McLaren hasn't made a race or road car since that hasn't been based around a carbon monocoque chassis, from the prototypical MP4/1 to today's MP4-31, and from the legendary McLaren F1 road car to the latest 570S. But don't take our word for it; hear the story direct from the car's designer John Bernard in this latest video direct from Woking.

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