IndyCar windscreen, 2018

IndyCar’s alternative to F1’s Halo to be tested on Thursday


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IndyCar will test a windscreen designed to improve head protection for drivers on Thursday. The series describes the innovation as “the next step in the evolution of its driver safety program”.

The design has been in development for two years and has already undergone wind tunnel and simulator testing. IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye said the process had been “very methodical and purposeful.”

Sebastian Vettel tries the shield, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2017
Vettel cut short Shield test after he “got dizzy”
“We have been striving to create a safety piece that aesthetically looks good and works in all conditions, and this is a test of those things,” he said. “Any piece we put on an IndyCar must work for multiple types of venues and different lighting conditions. It has to be versatile.”

Multiple IndyCar champion Scott Dixon will evaluate the windscreen on his Ganassi-run car in a range of lighting conditions at ISM Raceway in Phoenix as part of the championship’s pre-season open test.

F1 chose to introduce the Halo head protection system on its cars this year after conducting tests of a range of solutions including an ‘Shield’ similar in appearance to IndyCar’s windscreen. However Sebastian Vettel said testing the Shield made him feel dizzy and impaired his vision.

Like F1, IndyCar has been seeking improvements to driver head protection following a series of accidents. In 2015 Justin Wilson was killed at Pocono when a nose box from another car landed on his cockpit.


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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “IndyCar’s alternative to F1’s Halo to be tested on Thursday”

  1. Looks no better than that which Vettel tested.

    They have been developing it for 2 years? I hope they tried it on the track with a driver in that time, because there will be a bit of egg on their face if the drivers have a similar experience to Vettel, and the cameras have similar reflectivity issues.

    1. It is closer to the Red Bull screen than the Ferrari one and when the Red Bull aero-screen was track tested in Sochi, no optical distortion issues were noted.

      1. The Ferrari one if you watch the picture above was more angled which wasn’t an good design. They should have the fighter cockpit design (only the front part)

    2. Indycar also said back in August that they had tested the screens with drivers on the Dallara simulator to check for distortion.

      1. @mrmuffins So continuing from yesterday’s conversation we were having about this, you inspired me to refresh myself on the Red Bull version vs the Ferrari one. I totally see what you mean now about the different curvature Ferrari used, and given it’s shape I suspect they were trying to minimize the deflection of air away from the airbox, as the cars simply have not been designed aerodynamically with a windscreen in mind.

        So yes the Red Bull version is less complicated from a curvature standpoint as is the Indycar proposal. However, it’s early days. While Ricciardo doesn’t mention anything like distorted vision (SV had dizziness and lasted only one lap) it needs be mentioned that RBR tested it for one installation lap too, and all else has been simulator time. So DR acknowledges they haven’t tried it in different conditions of light nor on an undulating track.

        An issue, as you have mentioned yesterday, has been that in order to make the screen high enough to do what it is supposed to which is deflect large debris from above, it then gets close to the drivers helmet and the concern is that it could contact the driver on the head while being deflected from a tire hitting it for example. I think if Indycar’s more forward visor prevents that that’s great but aerodynamically I think in F1 we’d be talking about a very big change in the aero design front to back to accommodate it. Indycars were already more predisposed for such an add-on whereas F1 cars are much more finely tuned precise cars and simply aren’t meant to have this device added without a big revamp of the whole car. The halo hasn’t needed that.

        You speak of them using tear-offs, but of course that only helps when one is in the pits. One or two opportunities per race may not be enough. At least a driver doesn’t have to pit to tear off a film from his visor.

        It will be interesting to hear what Indy discovers. I’m curious about things like if a driver flat spots a tire and has vibration, how that will affect visibility. Throw on it a little oil, some rain…much yet to be learned.

        1. @robbie, in the case of the Indycar, they can get away with it because, as part of the design of the current car, they moved the air intakes down into the radiator area instead.

          With regards to the Indycar design, it is also not entirely clear what level of impact protection the screen is intended to provide. We know that, in the case of the Halo, that has been designed to withstand impact loads in the order of 80 – 90kN depending on the direction (based on a 20kg wheel striking the halo at 140mph), which is a substantial load (the equivalent of hanging 8-9 tonnes from the device).

          Now, I might have missed it, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear indication of what the impact criteria for Indycar’s screen is – the only comments I’ve seen have hinted at smaller pieces of debris being considered, so it is also possible that Indycar might have opted for a lower design load. That ties in with the deflection criteria as well – Red Bull’s concept failed on deflection, since the screen was too flexible and therefore larger pieces of debris could still strike the drivers head and cause a fatal injury.

          What is also forgotten is that the Indycar design is still fairly untested – whilst preliminary wind tunnel and simulator tests have been conducted, which is what Red Bull had done with their screen in your example, nobody has driven the car with the screen fitted yet (Scott Dixon’s test is the first time it will be trialled in real life).

          For all we know, the screen could still have similar issues to that which Vettel tried – even in the article that Victor links to, it indicates that vision distortion isn’t completely eliminated (their objective was to see what the drivers could accept in terms of vision distortion). Whether this design will be acceptable is something we won’t know for some time yet, so I think quite a few posters here are perhaps quick to jump to conclusions about Indycar’s screen proposal.

    3. Fighter pilots manage, powerboat drivers manage…..but Vettel got dizzy. Did he hell – he just had another tantrum.

      1. Great comment! felt the same and other racing series like the Top Fuel category of the NHRA has been using Canopy covered chassis for years successfully without their prima donnas getting dizzy

        1. Not comparable as a fighter pilot hardly are looking out of the canopy and the drag racer races for a few seconds at most.

          1. It has to be optically correct regardless of “how long” it is being used.

          2. Maybe LeMans 24 hours, including night, is time enough to be racing behind windscreens without getting dizzy?

        2. @machinesteve @TEDBELL Soooo you don’t even want to try to understand the complexities of the issue with respect to F1 cars?

          1. Well neither did Vettel!…He gave it a couple laps then they gave up. Hardly proper science…and now we have the hopeless thing that looks horrible will stop wheels (Surtees, Wilson) but nothing else like a spring (Massa) or stone (Marko)…and probably not a Price or Bianchi stupidity. Clearly indy are taking a far more serious approach.

    4. @mach1
      “Looks no better than that which Vettel tested.
      They have been developing it for 2 years?”

      You’re ignorant about how much technology goes into such glass. The looks are the least and last part of the whole thing. Material engineering is a very complex thing, and if they approach it as seriously as they do with aeroplane screens in the military, then 2 years sounds just about right. We’re talking not only optical characteristics, glass compound, but first of all modelling adequate geometry for best force distribution etc.
      On top of that may go possible glare-, scratch-, and smudge- resistance, and who knows – maybe even things like adaptive light performance.
      This subject is very deep.

      1. You sound like my optician trying to sell be “better lenses” ;)

        Nah, I appreciate that. I just hope, in real world performance, there is not too much reflectivity.

      2. The material it is made of is from super clear PPG Opticor, made for aircraft windows. Sounds like it will work to me.

    5. yeah, it does look awfully familiar. Will be interesting to see whether Dixon finds it less bad to look through than Vettel who got dizzy within a lap or so!

  2. At least Indycar are giving it a proper test, instead of letting a petulant child have one lap with it!
    I get the feeling the reason we (F1) are stuck with halo is down to political agendas and personal egos

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      3rd February 2018, 7:52

      Agreed. If this is successfully implemented it’s rather embarrassing for F1.

      1. Let’s be realistic here. Why would F1 be embarrassed? Their cars are way way more complex in their design, particularly for aero. Any little change to them that has not been designed in, is going to make a big difference. I don’t know how anybody can look at these screens and not see them dramatically affecting the way they would change how air gets (or doesn’t) into the airbox, or how it would go around the side pods and hit he rear wing. And those effects would also cause changes therefore to the front of the car. In other words, slap on a windscreen and get ready for them to have to spend hundreds of millions rethinking, redesigning, and remaking the cars.

        As if F1 has a lesser talent pool than Indycar and can’t just slap on a windscreen because they don’t have the knowhow or something. Couldn’t possibly be that they already know how damaging adding a windscreen would be to the wallet, let alone there are other issues like visibility and keeping it clean.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          4th February 2018, 8:21

          It would be embarrassing for F1 because Indy Car (if successful) due to proper research and no politics have found a much more fan friendly, aesthetically pleasing solution. This will also protect from debris as well so potentially safer. @robbie

          1. @rdotquestionmark F1 has been doing proper research all along but it is more complicated for F1. Politics exists in Indycar too and I don’t see how politics in F1 has prevented an aeroscreen that works from being employed. Fan friendly and aesthetically pleasing are only a few criteria such a device is hoped to have. It is not potentially safer if the drivers can’t see through it under all conditions, nor if their requirements for their screen are less stringent than in F1. Indycar has only just begun to test this so it is premature to say they’ve one-upped F1, and it is folly to assume that the situations and realities between the two series are the same.

          2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            4th February 2018, 20:35

            @robbie agreed but I mean if potentially there are no visibility issues with the windshield and it does the job safety wise (potentially safer from a debris point of view). This is gonna look bad for F1. Lots of people, myself included are gonna ask why F1 didn’t apply the same level of research to this type of solution

        2. Halo wouldn’t have helped Massa. That’s a huge issue. At the speed of a F1, I don’t believe visibility is going to be an issue, just like the helmet visors aren’t. Just peel them at every pit stop an you’re ready to go.

          1. The halo was never ment to help that kind of impact. After Massa’s accident they made helemts stonger. The design philosophy was that anything small enough to fit through the halo could be stopped by the helmet. Any large object that a helmet could not withstand the impact is stopped by the Halo.

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      3rd February 2018, 15:34

      @swh1386 I read an article by Will Buxton that reported that Vettel had a meeting with Todt before the Silverstone test of the screen. Also, all but one team voted against the Halo. The team that voted for it had the veto power, which was Ferrari.

      1. @mbr-9 Indeed, it looks like the canopy never got a real chance. It seems that specific interests have weighted heavier in the decision than providing the best viewer experience.

        FOM was also involved. They applied censorship to the press conference coverage in which half of the drivers stated to be against the Halo. Only, the other half, who were in favor, where featured in the summary.

    3. @swh1386 The reason it only got 1 lap of track testing was because Vettel’s opinions of it in terms of the distortion matched all of the feedback that the FIA had got from the simulator test’s.

      The shield wasn’t just thrown on the car, tested & scrapped. It had been in development & undergoing behind the scenes trials & test’s alongside a dozen other solutions long before it ended up on the Ferrari at Silverstone. And work continues behind the scenes on it & other solutions which may in the next few years replace the Halo.

      The reason they have gone with the Halo over other solutions isn’t political, It isn’t due to pressures from one team or another….. It’s because they want a solution on the cars for 2018 & the Halo is the only one thats ready which currently tick’s all of the boxes. Every other solution they have tested failed to tick 1 or more of the boxes be it visibility or failure to pass an impact test.

      @rdotquestionmark Not necessarily. Just means that like with other aspects of safety the 2 series have different standards because talk in the Sebring paddock is that this actually failed the same impact test that the Aeroscreen & shield’s trialled in F1 did but Indycar officials deemed it splitting during that impact test to be more acceptable than the FIA did.

    4. As @gt-racer rightly remarks, @sw1386, that test would maybe have gone for longer if Vettel had not felt so sure that this was not going to work, as it confirmed the fears they had had in simulation.

      And if Indycar deems the screen cracking less of an issue than the FIA, well, let’s just hope it will hold when it does come to this.

    5. Lewisham Milton
      4th February 2018, 17:27

      It was found to interfere with the round, glowing halo above the driver’s head.

  3. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    3rd February 2018, 2:06

    Notice the Indy version has a constant curve across the face of the windscreen, on one plane/axis. The issue with the Ferrari one, is that is had a curve across the front from left to right, was curved top to bottom (albeit less so), AND is was then pinched on the sides. There were simply too many compound curves with the Ferrari piece, which likely gave the driver a distorted fisheye-type view of the track. The single curve of the IndyCar piece should do a lot better.

    1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      3rd February 2018, 2:08

      *AND it was then pinched on the sides.

    2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      3rd February 2018, 7:55

      It makes me wonder if the Ferrari screen was deliberately flawed in it’s design. It was too obvious for Engineers of that intelligence to get so wrong. Then only given one lap etc.

      1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
        3rd February 2018, 11:11

        I think they took exactly one swipe at it, and the basis of that swipe, was to lift a similar shape from a fighter jet. Past that, I don’t think they cared too much. My feeling at the time, was that the Halo was already shoed-in long before the Shield was ever fitted to a Ferrari. With the Shield just being a “we did it, no good” thing for the FIA. I don’t think Ferrari were necessarily complicit in that.

        1. It’s rather the other way around really. First of all, until Dixon actually gets on track and feels fine about visibility they are currently just as close as F1 was BEFORE they ran it for real for that one lap. We don’t know whether they run into the same issue with distortion yet.

          And then if Indycar sets a lower standard for what the screen has to resist than the FIA does, that is their risk to take and put the drivers at.

          1. Any driver head protection is more than what F1 or IndyCar has used since existence, which has been nothing, zero until the Halo. The windscreen protects from the highest probability crash impacts, carbon / parts debris. The Halo does NOTHING to protect from that debris. This is the way to go IMHO.

        2. Don, the windscreen Indy is going to test offers LESS protection from heavy objects like what caused the last deadly injury in the sport. It certainly would be an improvement vs current state, that is true. But will it enough? We can only hope.
          That is, if Dixon doesn’t find that he suffers the same issues as Vettel did with distortion. Afterall those guys will be looking very close around them too, especially in a thight field on an oval.

      2. I would think the Ferrari concept was shaped as it was because they were trying not to deflect air over the airbox and starve for air and overheat the pu while making their rear wing useless. Keep in mind these cars were not designed in the wind tunnel to have an aeroscreen on them, so of course slapping this concept on an F1 car not meant for it is going to seriously alter it’s performance.

        Visibiltiy if just one component amongst the many that they have to consider. And even on the subject of visibility alone, I suggested, or asked hypothetically the other day, what happens when a driver flat spots a tire and has vibration? We already know the drivers can sometimes barely see if the vibration is severe enough…how about when an aeroscreen is vibrating too? While having a little oil on it, in certain light etc etc.

        I continue to be surprised at the number of people who seem enthralled by F1 and are fans and yet can bring the sport down to something akin to it containing a bunch of amateurs being ‘beaten’ by Indycar, and that laughingly can’t come up with a solution that is so simple from a fans armchair. Perhaps the problem is the concept pictures that some teams have presented that have been drawn up by artists who don’t need to consider function…just aesthetics.

        1. That might be part of the shaping, although that screen also seemed to be a lot thicker. The first iteration of the RB aeroscreen was thinner than the second version as well (i think the first version budged, while the second showed “only” cracks after impact?), which worsened distortion as well.

          THe shape Ferrari came up with might also have been done to make it structurally withstand a higher force.

  4. Basically, they are bringing back the Lotus 72 windbreaker on top of the car, it’s just the tub is too high and therefore the lower part isn’t painted- can’t really Argue With that, the 72 is so damn badass

  5. This is great. Not only does it look ok but it will really help with the small stuff coming at the driver. It may not be as strong as the halo but it will still help. I don’t think it takes away from the looks at all.

    2nd unlike f1 they seem to be willing to give this more then 1 go with a driver pushing possibly their own political stuff. If anyone forgot Ferrari designed the halo.

    Indy car has been working with PPG to make the best screen possible. This screen has almost no distortion in the viewing area for the driver. It’s been tested in the simulator a lot to make sure of this. I just hope everything does good at the test. I’d love it to work and have F1 adopt it.

    No solution is perfect but I feel a screen that protects against the 100’s of small things rather then something that will only stop big stuff in super rare situations. This screen may not stop but would def deflect a tire

    1. The small things aren’t the concern. If they were we’d have heard about that long ago. I’ll keep posing the question…how does one expect to slap on an aeroscreen…even the allegedly, yet far from proven Indycar version, like RBR’a too, and not drastically change the performance of on F1 car that is designed precisely and needs to get air into the hole in the airbox and around it and over the wing for it to do it’s thing?

      I suggest that if they said to the teams that next year you must design your cars to accommodate an aeroscreen, no choice, then that would mean hundreds of millions needed to spend on all new aero research, redesign, and remanufacture of the cars as we know them. Is F1 really in a position to do that? In fact it is the opposite and Brawn has spoken of well thought out and deliberate changes that don’t just advantage the have teams and harm the less resources ones.

      Plain and simply, if it was feasible to employ an aeroscreen on the F1 cars as we know them, they would likely do that, and/or we would have seen them do more than just one lap by Ferrari and one lap by RBR in testing the idea. It is a very complex notion and far more complex than for the far simpler Indycars.

      1. F1 teams rethink and redesign near to 100% of their cars every year. Rethinking it to work with a windshield wouldn’t be a revolution, specially considering the recent formula changes they had to manage.

  6. Why cant people take risks. Motor racing used to be for renegades and rebels. Now its for rich kids who like the idea as long as they dont het hurt. Hardly heroic

    1. This. It’s not like driving f1 was particularly dangerous as-is. It’s not like it’s barbaric to just go on. People get paid far worse in far riskier professions.

    2. At least there are 3 of us in agreement. Unfortunately it’s 2018 and it’s ok for 5 year old boys to wear dresses.

      1. 4 of us.

        F1 is a pale shadow of what it was. Sanitized and inoffensive. I’ll enjoy bike racing (MotoGP, SBK, Road Racing) until the precious little snowflakes get around to killing those off also.

        1. You will find there are many who agree but F1 aint interested in its small core audience because they are already watching.

        2. MotoGP bikes have windshields too. Get over it already. F1 and motor racing has always been about implementing more safety. If you don’t want to wear a seatbelt and like to drink drive, that is your ‘backward conservative’ view, while the rest of the world evolves as it always has, and how motorsport always has also. Safety is more important then some fan who wants to watch danger.

    3. Heroic is great until you end up dead, I am all for heroics in F1 in terms of skill and risk taking passes driving at ridiculous speeds. But seeing dead or severely injured drivers being extracted from cars is not what I watch F1 for. Each to their own

      1. @theoddkiwi Yeah but the thing is that sort of thing doesn’t really happen any more. In the past you needed to be lucky to escape a crash. Nowadays you need to be extraordinarily unlucky in order to not escape. The thing is safety is fine. And the only fatal accident in the last 24 years would. not. have. been. prevented. by. the. halo. Also, bianchi didn’t have to die. Simply sticking to the existing safety principles would have prevented that from happening. Unlike the halo.

    4. Remember when fans could stand nearly right on the race course, no fences or restrictions? Just step right up and feel the wind as race cars whizz by mere feet or maybe even inches away! How about when cars went up like fireworks when there was a lack of fuel cell safety regulations? Or no seat belts? Or crash impact standards?
      Believe it or not many had similar attitudes to yours whenever new safety regs have been introduced over the years. But, safety regs were put in place anyway to eliminate death and injury as much as possible which is why F1 and other forms of racing are so much safer today.

      Essentiality the thought that racing is not risky enough or heroic any more is saying that there should be no more progress with safety measures and maybe even that some safety measures should be rolled back to make racing riskier and more dangerous to satisfy the needs of some race “fans”. It might prove interesting to find out what level of risk, injury or possibility of death would satisfy the needs or desires of some people.

      But, racing safety regulations have been a constant progression since the first measures were put in place. As racing continues to develop in all areas does it not make sense that the safety aspect also continues to develop? How does having a driver less likely to die or suffer head injury detract from anyone’s enjoyment of racing? I never will understand that.

      Maybe it’s because I started watching racing in an era when our racing heroes died far more often than they do now. I still miss Jim Clark, Mark Donohue and too many others. I still miss Jules Bianchi too. There is still more progress to be made. The halo is only a step in the progression, not a final answer. If F1 and racing in general was bloodsport with no regard for safety, I just wouldn’t want any part of it.

  7. In the long-term: #NoHalo #YesShield or #YesAeroScreen

    1. Halo, is it me you’re looking for?
      Cause I wonder where you are and I wonder what you do
      Are you somewhere feeling lonely? Or is someone loving you?

  8. Remind me why drivers use tear offs?

  9. It doesnt look strong enough even to deflect a piece of light debris. Aeroscreen was much tougher and it was not tough enough. Here is the video from the static tests.

    1. yeah, seems that IndyCar set a lower standard for how strong it should be @jpvalverde85

  10. Asceticly this wins hands down over Halo. However I’m finding any of the cencepts hand to stomach. F1 has to decide what it is that makes it F1. Open wheeled, open cockpit. If it is shying away from this then then don’t we already have the alternative with WEC?

    HANS device is fairly discreet, drivers sitting lower in the cars or sides being higher still gives the feel of how it was before without killing what F1 means. I’d hate to see F1 in a few seasons time with half closed wheels, half closed cockpits & half a grid of drivers/teams if Ferrari call it a day & Sauber go bust. Let FE go space age & do their own thing & let Ross try & fix the real problems in F1

    1. @bobby-balboa, well, in the 1950’s there were the “Monza Streamliner” Mercedes Benz W196’s, not to mention the Lancia-Ferrari D50’s that had almost entirely closed or fully enclosed wheels in order to reduce drag. There were also cars like the Cooper T40 and the Connaught Bs which most would probably mistake for sportscars instead of an F1 car, and Gordini also produced versions of the T32 that had partially enclosed wheels.

      To a lesser extent, quite a few teams went down the route of effectively partially enclosing the front wheels of the cars in the 1970’s – Brabham, March, BRM, Surtees and many others had front wings which were designed to partially envelop the front wheel – whilst the bodywork around the radiators often tended to partially envelop the rear wheels as well (Ferrari’s 312T series, Fittipaldi, March, Parnelli, Surtees and others went down that route). I have a distinct recollection that, in the 1970’s, Ferrari also developed a variant of the 312T that had a cover attached to the brake duct that partially enclosed the front wheels of their cars too.

      Point is, the idea of at least partially enclosing the wheels in F1 is a fairly old idea given the sport has done just that quite a few times in the past – nobody seemed to think themselves bound by the past when they did it then, but apparently now that it too radical idea for F1’s fans to accept.

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      3rd February 2018, 15:41

      @bobby-balboa F1 is just about single-seater cars. WEC is about sports cars (two-seaters).

      1. @mbr-9) thanks for clearing that one up because I was completely foxed

    3. It seems society is too sensitive and risk averse to allow open cockpit anymore. That’s bad but what’s worse is that the FIA cowards don’t have the balls to just say this and close the cockpit. And so we are left with this Halo monstrosity that allows the FIA and a subset of F1 “Fans” to feel like they are making a stand for safety while pretending that the cockpit remains open. Pathetic.

      1. This is exactly how I view the situation.

  11. Well, I must say this looks no better than the Halo aesthetically at least; it’s not proportional to the vehicle, it looks really odd to say the least.

  12. This looks 1000x better than the halo, although I’m not sure it would’ve prevented Justin Wilson’s death.

  13. It is hard to know whether this would “tick the same boxes” as Halo does, but if it does then hopefully the FIA will allow it to be an alternative to Halo.

  14. The Canopy looks better than the Halo but after seeing the 2018 Formula E and its Halo makes me think they can look agressive too

  15. Mark in Florida
    4th February 2018, 3:18

    At least it looks better than the halo. The halo looks like a three legged stool with no seat bottom, wait a minute that makes the halo an outdoor toilet. Halo and wind screens on open wheelers are there to satisfy the cringers of the world.

  16. It’s a lovely throwback to the IndyCars of mid 1990’s:

    1. Great looking car. Of course the screen was more for aero than protection. It did give some small part protection in front of the drivers visor.

  17. I don’t think this would have saved Justin Wilson’s life as that nose cone piece fell directly on the top of his helmet, it may have saved Dan Wheldon though.

    1. Seriously doubt that it would have done Wheldon much good either, such a force would just shatter the whole shield before helping soften much of an impact.

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