McLaren collaborates with Bcomp to develop F1's first natural fibre composite racing seat
24 August 2020
Since the inaugural round of the FIA Formula One World Championship in 1950, the pinnacle of motorsport has seen teams relentlessly push the boundaries of technology in pursuit of performance, making it the birthplace for countless ingenious innovations. From McLaren's founder Bruce’s ‘nostrils’ aerodynamic device, to brake-steer and the F-duct, McLaren has been the driving force behind many of them.
But if there’s one pioneering breakthrough that has captured the imagination most, transforming the sport and beyond, it would have to be the introduction of the first car with a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, the MP4/1. Light, strong and a huge leap forward for safety, it has heavily influenced racing car design to this very day. And it’s therefore perhaps unsurprising that even just the mention of carbon fibre, causes pricked ears and elevated heart rates for many fans. It changed the game but, here’s the thing, it’s nothing new. Carbon fibre has been around for decades. That’s not to say it’s old hat, it still plays a pivotal role in F1 – accounting for around 70% of a modern-day F1 car’s structural weight. But what if, in this age of economic uncertainty and environmental responsibility, there was a cheaper and more sustainable alternative?
McLaren has been working with Swiss sustainable lightweighting specialist Bcomp to develop just that, starting with a natural fibre racing seat for Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris – the very first F1 car part to be made of renewable textile fibres. By optimising the mechanical properties of flax fibres through fabric architecture, it’s been possible to make a seat with the required strength and stiffness, but with a 75% lower CO2 footprint compared to its carbon fibre counterpart.
“The use of natural fibre composites is the latest example of pioneering, composite materials innovation at McLaren,” explains McLaren F1 Team Principal Andreas Seidl. “Not only does this solution provide equivalent performance to carbon fibre, it represents another step forward in our evolving sustainability programme, while underlining our commitment to helping F1 turn its ambitious sustainability strategy into action.”
“For decades, F1 has been an innovation lab for technology that has transformed not just motorsport, but the automotive industry and beyond,” adds McLaren F1 Technical Director James Key. “The sport must continue down the road of getting to an increasingly environmentally friendly set of conditions, and our development and application of natural fibre composites is an example of how we’re accelerating this journey, as well as the ongoing evolution towards cleaner mobility.”
And this is a sentiment that is echoed by Bcomp CEO and Co-Founder Christian Fischer: “Sustainability and decarbonisation is a global issue, and it is fantastic to see motorsport embrace carbon alternatives, paving the way for widespread adoption within large-scale mobility applications. McLaren has always been a pioneer within the sport, in terms of both composites and sustainability, thus it feels like the perfect match and a great honour to collaborate with such a prestigious brand.”
Image McLaren © 2020
Continue reading the full article on the McLaren website here.