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McLaren to trial recycle carbon fibre at F1's US GP

The McLaren Formula 1 team will trial the use of recycled carbon fibre at the upcoming US Grand Prix in Austin, which it hopes will become an important element in reducing CO2 emissions.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

McLaren has teamed up with the specialised company V Carbon to pioneer the use of recycled carbon on its MCL60.

The recycled material will first be used on the cockpit branding panels of the cars driven by Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

McLaren intends to keep the material on its cars for the remainder of the 2023 F1 season if the Austin trial is successful, with a view to exploring further use on its future cars.

Carbon fibre has been an integral part of F1 car design for decades thanks to its favourable strength-to-weight ratio.

It was McLaren that pioneered its use in 1981 with the John Barnard-designed MP4/1, the first F1 car to feature a full carbon composite monocoque. Carbon fibre-reinforced polymers have also become integral to the design of the latest airliners from Boeing and Airbus, among other technology applications.

But the use of carbon fibre also comes with environmental caveats as its demand is expected to double over the next 10 years, with studies estimating around 30% of carbon fibre ends up as waste during the production process.

By exploring the use of recycled carbon fibre McLaren hopes it has taken the first step towards to "developing a fully circular F1 car by 2030", a car which can be built from recycled materials.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“We're proud to team up with V Carbon to lead the charge in sustainable materials, running with recycled carbon fibre at the Austin GP," said McLaren F1 COO Piers Thynne.

"The potential future application of recycled carbon fibre is hugely exciting. V Carbon offers up to 85% of carbon fibre's original strength, making it strong enough for a variety of applications in F1, and beyond. We will continue to work closely with the FIA, F1 and fellow teams to help accelerate change.”

McLaren's Director of Sustainability Kim Wilson added: “Developing a fully circular F1 car is our moonshot. We know that innovating in this space has the potential to make a large contribution to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals.

"Using recycled carbon fibre in key parts of the F1 car at this year’s US GP and analysing their performance on the track is a vital step towards reducing the overall GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions of our car manufacture."

McLaren's initiative is part of F1's push to slash its carbon footprint to net zero by 2030, with the production of F1 cars one of the largest contributors to a team's emissions.

The team claims that recycled carbon fibre leads to a 90% reduction in life cycle emissions compared to standard carbon fibre.

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