IndyCar this week have unveiled their own version of a cockpit safety device, the Aeroscreen, and not only has it been unveiled it has made its track debut on board the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing of Scott Dixon as part of the two-day test at Phoenix Raceway.
The areoscreen is made of an advanced transparency material by PPG, the same material that the company uses in their production of fighter jet canopies. F1 tested a screen of their own with Sebastian Vettel who said that it made him feel ‘dizzy’ but Dixon has a different verdict saying that “There’s no game-stoppers. It’s a little bit different looking through something that’s so thick, but I thought it would be worse with distortion but there was nothing like that.”
Dixon went onto say that they will see what it is like when the sun is setting and then later at night, presumably to see how the aeroscreen fairs with the low sun glare and then under the lights. He then noted two side effects of the screen; one positive, the other negative:
“The weirdest thing is how quiet it is. There is no buffeting, the car feels very smooth, it feels like you’re in a luxury well-damped car.”
“But cooling! We need some cooling, just because you get no airflow through the car. Kudos to [IndyCar and PPG], but there’s definitely things that we can improve on and make better.” He added.
How will it fair at other tracks?
Obviously there is a large difference between the three categories of tracks that IndyCar race on, them being Ovals, Street courses and Road courses and Dixon highlighted this saying “I think it will be interesting on a road and street course in terms of perception of the corner and how you come into it.“ [We need to] see if there’s an issue regarding where you look through it. But nothing yet.”
How will the aeroscreen be used?
Even though the aeroscreen has been received well by Dixon, the IndyCar hierarchy are unsure as to whether the aeroscreen will feature in races this season, if any. The hierarchy have said that the decision to implement the aeroscreen would be decided by the results of the test and Jay Frye, the series’ President of Competition and Operations, said “Once we get it on the car, we’ll see how it affects the handling. We can collect the data on how it affected the car. That will make us better and better, knowing what we want to do and how we go forward.”
Along with this new safety feature the new for 2018 aerokits are very robust and with their minimal use of aerodynamics this season there are much less chances of debris becoming a problem and there is now, minimal modification required for a cockpit safety system to be fitted.
Frye said; “We just want to make sure we do the right thing and we get it done correctly,”
“The car as it sits right now has a much more robust safety feature with the side-impact piece, with the Coke-bottle shape [of the aerokit] and with the sidepods moving forward [to improve side-impact protection].”
“We just want to keep going. We’re not done.” He added.
Frye also stated that this wasn’t an overnight idea and that it has been in the works since March 2016; “We started with this [new car design] in March of 2016 to get it to where it is today,” he said.
“It was a long process, a great process, but we checked every box as we went through it. The testing of it has been amazing right out of the box. There’s a historical feel to this car. We’ll just go back and look at some of the older pictures of cars when they had [windscreens in the past].”
“It might not be that new. We’re trying to go for a different look. We’ll see.”
Photo credit: Phillip Abbott/ LAT Images