The first appearance of the F1 halo was not greeted well, but treated with a certain amount of disdain. Commonality can breed acceptance and coupled with actually seeing the safety affect in action in several formula this season, a single seater almost looks naked without one.
The American’s are looking at going one better and this week IndyCar, in collaboration with Red Bull Advanced Technologies, staged its first on-track test of a revolutionary Aeroscreen at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and 2014 series champion Will Power of Team Penske – both Indianapolis 500 winners – combined to run nearly 650 incident-free miles around the iconic 2.5-mile oval.
Power ran 129 laps at a top speed of 224.591 mph while Dixon completed 128 laps with a best of 224.501 mph. Neither reported issues with visibility, head buffeting or car handling, all positives for the Aeroscreen that will be fitted to all NTT IndyCar Series cars for the 2020 season.
INDYCAR President Jay Frye was more than pleased with the practical test and demonstration commenting, “We had pretty high expectations, and we’ve probably exceeded them already. I think it’s done everything we thought it would do and then some. Obviously, we’ve learned a lot.
“I think the most important thing is the foundation is right … and it’s been a very turn-key event, so we’re really proud of that.”
The Aeroscreen has been developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies to reduce the risk of driver injury from debris or other objects striking the cockpit area. The driver safety innovation encompassing the cockpit is comprised of a ballistic Aeroscreen anchored by titanium framework.
The RBAT design consists of a polycarbonate laminated screen that includes an anti-reflective coating on the interior of the screen, an anti-fogging device through an integral heating element and tear-offs, all of which will be produced by integrated third-party companies. Another feature for the drivers will be a cockpit-cooling duct designed by Dallara using its computational fluid dynamics.
The titanium framework mounts in three areas around the cockpit: the chassis centerline, two rear side mounts and roll hoop integration to provide enhanced load-bearing capabilities. The load bearing is expected to be 150 kilonewtons (kN), which equals the FIA load for the Halo design currently used in Formula One. A kilonewton is equal to approximately 225 pounds.
After the test Dixon commented on how quiet the cockpit is with the wind deflected. He said he could hear his team radio for the first time than ever before.
“There’s actually a lot less load on the helmet,” Dixon said. “Visually, there’s been no (issue). Some of the areas with tear-offs and where they seam in the middle will be sort of fixed down the road to make it better.”
“I’m so happy that we have it,” Power said. “It’s really a huge step in safety, and I think it’s the best of both worlds. You’ve got the halo and you’ve got a screen, so I think that you’ll see other open-wheel categories follow suit. When you’ve driven it for a day, you’re going to feel naked without it.”
INDYCAR has scheduled additional Aeroscreen tests at Barber Motorsports Park, a permanent road course, with Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay on Oct. 7; Richmond Raceway, a short oval, with Dixon and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden on Oct. 15; and Sebring International Raceway, a road course which can simulate a street circuit, with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais on Nov. 5. Aeroscreens are to be delivered to all NTT IndyCar Series teams prior to Christmas.