Video and pictures: IndyCar conducts first track test of its windscreen


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IndyCar’s windscreen has been track tested for the first time at an oval in Phoenix.

Scott Dixon, IndyCar windscreen test, Phoenix, 2018
“It’s like when you have a new pair of glasses.”
Ganassi driver Scott Dixon conducted the test which will involve running the screen in a range of different light conditions.

The series is evaluating the screen which is designed to protect drivers from debris strikes, much as F1’s new Halo is also intended to do. The new device could be introduced during the upcoming season, which begins on March 11th at St Petersburg.

“It’s a very good start and no showstoppers, which is the biggest part,” Dixon told IndyCar’s official media partner after driving with the screen for the first time.

“What everyone was worried about is if we drive out and can’t see properly, glare was going to be an issue. We ran it at probably one of the worst times in Phoenix, too. Going into turn one it was complete sun and then going into the darkness.”

“For me it’s definitely a big change,” he said. “Having driven open-wheel cars the whole time with nothing in front of you, for me the biggest sensation to start with, outside of the visual, was how quiet it was. It felt like I was in a luxury car cruising around with no wind, your head wasn’t moving around.”

Sebastian Vettel tries the shield, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2017
Vettel cut short Shield test after he “got dizzy”
“I started hearing a lot of thing that you don’t [normally] hear. That was quite interesting. And then the heat, obviously there’s no airflow right now. It’s something that’s a very easy fix down the road with maybe a NACA duct or something in front.”

“But I think to start it’s pretty good. It is a little different to look through, you’ve got to imagine it’s quite a thick piece of material you’re transitioning and looking through. It’s more the sensation of having to get used to it, it’s like when you have a new pair of glasses or contacts or something like that, it visually takes you a little bit to get used to.”

Last year Formula One tested the Shield, a similar device to IndyCar’s windscreen, but Sebastian Vettel rejected the design, saying it made him feel “dizzy”.

IndyCar windscreen test pictures

IndyCar windscreen test video

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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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77 comments on “Video and pictures: IndyCar conducts first track test of its windscreen”

  1. It looks fantastic, like an F1 car from the 70’s – 80’s; retro but on a modern and futuristic aero-kit

    1. There will be a helmet cam on Dixon tomorrow. Should be really interesting video when uploaded. Live streaming of testing on the IndyCar mobile app and at IndyCar’s web site, the 9th & 10 / 3PM and 8PM Eastern Time.

        1. Wow, nice. Very little distortion! Interesting noticing the wheel is cocked right on the straights; must be set up to turn left.

        2. +1 Nice

        3. I got “dizzy.” Jokes, I’m not a prima donna.

    2. Actually, what it looks like is not 70s/80s Formula 1 cars, but 70s-early 90s IndyCars: – 1990 + 1980

      In that era they looked after the drivers safety much more in IndyCar than they did in Formula 1. The drivers looked well protected, whereas F1 drivers had their shoulders sticking out of the cars.

      1. good shout! They look epic! Hopefully in a few years F1 will adopt something similar

  2. Not sure on details of the thing but if its similar to Halo it terms of safety then, wow. Makes the Halo look shocking. Lets wait and see i guess. Well done to Indycar

  3. Looks great, but looks there is no structure to provide any real strength along the top of the screen. I can’t see it preventing a wheel hitting the driver which was the main test in the F1 scenario. It will surely flex. Also the vertical impact protection is virtually non existent. Aircraft screens are much thicker and thus much heavier but they still flex when hit. I know the Halo looks a bit odd, but is Indy rushing this in?

    1. I don’t know how thick the previously tested Aeroscreens of Ferrari and Red Bull were but this is 1/2 inch of material in the Indycar version.

    2. Here are a couple images showing how thick this screen is:
      Image 1
      Image 2

      1. Wow! Transparent aluminum.

        Indy must have gotten outside help.

        1. Basically bulletproof glass. I don’t think they’ll have to worry about being hit by a wheel.

      2. In the first image you linked, it’s interesting to note that there is no apparent distortion that I can make out.

        The person in black, the umbrella holder and the air cylinder all seem the same above and through the aeroscreen. This is definitely good to know.

        1. I’m also impressed by the lack of glare and how transparent it is—the light coming through the screen is not noticeably dimmer, unlike the canopy of a sports car. That really aids the fans’ ability to view the driver and maintains an open-cockpit feel.

          Of course, perhaps the images we have happen to be favourable angles. But it still seems much improved over the massive glare from Ferrari’s shield:

          In some of the shots from Dixon’s night test, the screen practically fades into the background, at least for me:

          Aesthetically, I can’t say I’m bothered at all by this.

        2. My first thought looking at the front shot of Scott Dixon above. It seems to be clear, no distortion and no flares. Looks good and probably that it flexes enough to deflect a tire without breaking.
          Would be nice to have Scott’s opinion on this one.

          1. I think it has a lot of distortion for objects close to the shield. Look at the letters on the bottle on the right hand side.
            Can’t judge though unless i sit on the driver’s seat!

        3. They worked with PPG who is the most high tech glass company in earth. His is the company who builds all the fighter jet canopy’s. They also make this an anti glare glass. F1 never wanted the screen to work or they would have reached out to PPG. Also this glass is made and shaped to have zero distortion

          1. PPG? I was thinking Plexicorp.

      3. I’m not a fan of any of these cockpit protections, but this is by far and away the best one yet, aesthetically. It blends in well

        1. This was supposed to be its own comment, I don’t know what happened

    3. The wheels in IndyCar have been tethered since 1999 and the likelihood of a wheel coming off is slim to none.

    4. On the contrary, I think F1 had already chosen the halo before Vettel was dizzy after a single lap.
      There was no comparison, no testing of any other solutions, on track at least.
      And here we are a few months later with something that looks like that! Stunning.

      If it does the job, the FIA look very silly.

    5. Flexing is good. Flexing is absorbing energy, and reducing the eventual impact force on the driver.

      Rigid systems, as a rule, tend to break.

  4. Motorsport has an article up in which driver Scott Dixon gives his initial impressions.

    The primary issue he notes is cooling but I think that is something that will be solved by putting some vents in the mounting for the next version.

    The big positive he says is that it is a lot quieter driving the car.

    For optical distortion he says it is “a little bit different” but he also want to run with it some more and test it out on different tracks.

    1. Ricciardo mentioned the quietness after the installation lap he did in the RBR test too.

  5. i ask for 1 thing in the right direction to the FIA only 1

  6. Can’t say that I like it 😢

    From the stands its impossible to see the helmet and the reflection can be blinding at times, Driver views is one thing but the sunglare from the stands is something they need to rake into account else fans won’t actually be able to look at the cars.

    1. Agree, it’s ugly.
      It’s like a cheap toy when still in the plastic packaging.
      Even the halo looks better than this

    2. From the stands its impossible to see the helmet

      Are you at the test?

  7. It is super clear! Looks great!

    1. Leaving the pits, yeah… but I gotta wonder what it’s going to look like after 190 laps at Indy.

      “We’re gonna need a bigger tear-off!”

  8. I wonder what sort of tests it has to undergo and what forces it needs to protect against versus the halo? (One and a half London double decker bus’ ?)
    It certainly looks better.
    By the way, testing is live streamed! Come on F1 – why can’t your testing be live Streamed?

    1. It’s design mission is to deflect the most common threat, impact from carbon fiber and other flying parts. The wheels have been tethered since ’99 and the front nose assembly is tethered with Zylon. Low probability of large parts hitting the driver and no need to support the weight of a bus.

      1. Was it not the case that Justin Wilson was killed by being struck on the head by the nose assembly back in 2015? The nose assembly might be tethered, but there have still been cases where the nose has detached from the chassis during a crash.

        1. It’s still a freak accident. That thick, depending on the material, it could probably reduce the overall force of that nose cone by 60% or more.

          It will be far more effective against small projectiles like the spring that hit Massa. If I were a racer, I think I’d prefer the screen to the halo.

        2. The nose cones are tethered with Zylon (since Justin’s accident) like the wheels (since ’99). A large piece flying like that is very low probability now. The screen is designed to protect the most common threat, smaller flying parts. Even so, the screen could take a tremendous impact and survive.

  9. Its intially better than last seasons Halo and we are yet to see how F1 tweeks the Halo in 2018 as Formula E has already shown there tweek

  10. I assume they’ll test it in rain, and when it has dirt or oil on it. If they use tear-offs I wonder if a few layers of those on the screen will affect the visibility. Will be interesting to hear about how it feels/performs at 220mph in traffic in terms of aero effect. With Dixon saying it will take some getting used to visually and is something all the drivers will just have to try for themselves, I am a bit skeptical that they can get it tested in various real world conditions, and have all the drivers get used to it under all those conditions, and be using it this season, all in a very short time. That said at least they have southern US weather so they can be testing now and until the season starts.

    1. Introduction at the start of the season was ruled out a while ago. Depending on how this test went, the choice is to introduce it at the end of the 2018 season or for the 2019 season.

      1. Ah yes, I see also in the article above that it could be introduced sometime this season. Thanks. That makes more sense than what I thought I had read.

    2. @Robbie

      I assume they’ll test it in rain, and when it has dirt or oil on it.

      One possibility is they’re considering this for superspeedways only, where the speeds are consistently much higher and the need for this arguably much greater, and they don’t run in the rain anyway. They’ll still need to give the screens a scrub during pit stops though I reckon.

      1. @keithcollantine Ah ok, thanks Keith. That makes sense. I’m still quite curious as to how the cars will feel at 200mph type speeds, including when they’re closely packed together at those speeds. I can’t see how the screen won’t change the feel quite a bit. I wonder if they’ll have to add farings somehow somewhere to channel or focus air, as the screen makes for quite an amount of surface area to be hit by said air at high speeds.

      2. @keithcollantine It’ll be interesting to see if they adopt a tear off for pit stops, oleophobic or hydrophobic coatings for oil and water, or dare I say even a wiper such as those on LMP cars!

  11. It is a much more elegant solution, I could possibly imagine the eventually they may add some sort of hoop around the top edge to help with rigidity, but just from the pictures it appears to have much less noticeable distortion than the effort Ferrari cobbles together and the FiA and Seb Vettle dismissed after 1 lap (like it was just a half-hearted attempt to convince the fans and paddock nay-sayers, that the halo was the only way forward)

    1. I maintain that the situation is far different for F1 given that their cars are much more involved, sensitive, and dependent on aerodynamics than Indycars. I think Ferrari’s ‘cobbled together’ prototype (I disagree with that portrayal) was trying to ensure air could still get into the airbox, for example, which is something Indycar doesn’t have to worry about.

      I suspect that many in F1, especially the many who don’t like the halo, would welcome something more like an aeroscreen just as fans seem to prefer that, so I don’t get why some around here think the aeroscreen hasn’t been given enough effort and that the halo has been jammed through on some alleged short notice or what have you. If an aeroscreen was more feasible than a halo, I don’t sense so much love for the halo that it would be happening if an aeroscreen was just as easy to employ. I think it is way more complicated for F1.

      I suspect that F1 simply knows instinctively that in order to employ an aeroscreen that works in all conditions and does the job it is supposed to, will cost them hundreds of millions in research, redesign, and remanufacture of the cars to accommodate such a big surface area being planted in front of the drivers. It will totally change how air hits (or doesn’t) the air hole, and how it goes around the airbox and hits the rear wing. And as we know once the back is changed so will the front of the car need to be in order to accommodate the major aero changes from the aeroscreen back.

      1. You have got to admit though it would be interesting to see how drastically F1 cars would change due to the chain reaction of changes that would come about because of something like this.

        1. For sure. Perhaps a hint is in the 2021 concept pictures Brawn was handing out to the teams near the end of the season as to ideas of what F1 could look like for the next gen.

  12. Looks Great.

  13. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    9th February 2018, 5:43

    If visibility is affected, why don’t they make it totally flat (but leaning, not truck-cabin flat)? Probably it would also be ugly but I’m sure better than the Halo.

    1. Even leaning (straight up is just too funny to even imagine) I would think a flat screen would be problematic aerodynamically. Especially at 220mph. Especially when we know how much air can be deflected just with a little 1” lip of a windscreen meant to get air over the helmet on open wheel cars. Come to think of it, a straight up little lip, no?

    2. It would not only be ugly, but much weaker. PHYSICS ALERt ;) On top of that you would need 3 of such flat pieces connected together to enclose the driver, wouldn’t you? That’s another vulnerability and possible obstruction to the driver’s view as well.

      To explain the strength part – the difference is fundamental. Consider an arch made of bricks:
      It can stand on its own, because the bricks are compressed together, as opposed to stretched apart if you tried to make a flat brick shelf put on two columns (which obviously couldn’t last a second).

      The difference of force required for an external pressing force to brake a flat piece of glass and a glass arc is not comparable.

  14. Here’s an interview with Scott Dixon and footage of the car running:

    1. It felt like “I was in a luxury car cruising around”

  15. I dislike. Both this and the halo. For me this screen looks unproportiomal to the rest of the car, as if I saw a road car Porsche with 1,5 meters windshield added. It’s really odd to me. Maybe if they reduced the size slightly that would fit a bit better for me. But surely not excited by this one.

    1. @mmertens
      I know what you mean, but you have to look at it differently. Don’t look at it as a classical motorcycle windshield – because that’s what single-seaters have always had, right. Try thinking about it as a canopy with an opening at the top.
      So basically, instead of seeing something larger than what you assume it was, you’ll be seeing something smaller than what it would otherwise be (i.e. a canopy).

      1. Thanks Damon, yes it makes sense. It looks almost like an wannabe lmp1 car. Eventually I will get used I think. But it’s 10x better than the halo.

  16. I prefer it to the halo. Time will tell which one is more effective in an accident, but looks wise, this looks more advanced than the halo. The halo to me does not look safe, the visibility for the drivers must be poor, I am just not convinced.
    As for using the screen on ovals only, that could be a dangerous mistake and an unnecessary risk for Indycar to take. The series goes to plenty on street circuits, confined spaces where there is a greater risk of a driver hitting debris on track. Granted, the speeds are slower, but when you look at the aftermath of Franchitti’s Houston crash in 2013, the sport was very lucky that no other drivers were hurt with all the tyres and other wreckage blocking the circuit.
    If you are going to do this, it has to be 100% and not just for the four or five super speedways the sport runs on.

  17. The design integrates pretty seamlessly with the overall car design, and like someone commented, if anything gives an interesting blend of retro and modern! As profiles go this I how I want a formula cars’ side profile to look…
    First time since the 90’es that I am actually googling the start date of the Indycar season! (while F1 has not really made me excited so far).

  18. I actually think this looks great in its own right, never mind as a safety feature.

    Just serves to highlight how farcical the halo really is when something like this is a viable option.

    1. It has far from been determined that an aeroscreen is a viable option for F1. It is only in the testing stages in Indycar and may only be used at higher speed ovals. In F1 it would seem there are more negatives than positives toward the aeroscreen, or else the halo would not be happening and an aeroscreen would already be on the cars instead.

    2. @zazeems

      Just serves to highlight how farcical the halo really is when something like this is a viable option.

      This may be a viable option for the requirements Indycar are looking at (Deflecting smaller pieces of debris), However the FIA were looking at something that could withstand larger impacts & deflect larger/heavier pieces of debris which is something I gather this failed to do (It split during the same impact test the aeroscreen/shield did).

      It is also worth pointing out that this screen has yet to be tested under every scenario, It’s only done single car oval runs so nobody yet really knows if it could introduce problems on road/street circuits or even if what visibility changes it does introduce may be a larger problem on ovals when you have close wheel to wheel/side by side racing.
      I also gather there is a concern about dirt/oil, Yes they have tear off’s but when your doing 220-230mph at Indy you can’t afford to have something that can get covered in dirt/oil that drivers cannot clean themselves because driving around waiting for the next pit stop could be problematic & having to pit early will ruin your race.

      1. I also wonder how the visibility will be with a handful of tear offs on it. Or maybe they’ll just decide that since a driver would have to come in for them to tear one off they might as well just clean it (depending on how well they can clean it quickly, of course.) I doubt smears would be acceptable. So if it’s tearoffs, again, what is visibility like with 5 or 6 on the aeroscreen.

  19. If this material is good enough for American fighter jets you can be assured it’ll be up to the task for IndyCar. It’s super clear considering how thick it is, and the shape (like an arch) will be super strong. Nice job to all!

    1. Sort of. the Fighter cockpits are designed to deflect bird strikes, but they do that by absorbing the impact by flexing which is fine as the Pilot is much further away from the screen. Look at an F16 and see how far back the pilot is from the front of the screen.
      This surely will flex and possibly still allow contact with the drivers head.

  20. I like the screen. The only thing that I am wondering is, what if there is a huge scratch in there, from debris or a chip in it.? Does someone need to retire due to a scratch in the screen?
    The Halo will not have these issues, but one might be that visor tear offs, tape strips or other things (astro turf piece).
    I know that this can still happen without the halo, but now there is more area to have stuff get caught in.
    On the Indycar, it seems like that the screen will move the airflow abound the cockpit and further out. Could this cause the Rear wing to not being able to produce the downforce that it was meant to produce?

  21. @us-brian
    “Does someone need to retire due to a scratch in the screen?”
    What happens in all other series where cars have windscreens? I don’t know, that almost never happens, does it?
    It Nascar they usually have an abundance of crashes and debree flying all over and hitting stuff. I don’t remember ever seeing a car with a scratched front window. I guess it must’ve happend in the past, but it must be an extremely rare occurence.

    Now imagine a piece of debree gets entangled and stuck in the Halo. Hmm, that could happen as well.

  22. My concern with that sort of a screen is what happens if they get covered in debris & oil?

    I saw them mention tear off’s but with the sort of speeds they do on some of the ovals; having a driver running around with a screen covered in dirt waiting for his next stop isn’t really ideal or safe. And given how costly a green flag stop can be on an oval (On shorter one’s you can lose a few laps) it’s hardly fair for a driver to have to pit & potentially be taken out of contention for a good finish just because the screen gets dirty & they have to slow down because they can’t see or need to make an early stop.

  23. Great job indycar capturing the onboard view with camers. When vettel tested the windscreen I don’t think we got to see any onboard video of it.

    1. @socksolid Not from a Helmet mounted camera but they did show OnBoard shots from both the T-cam & the camera mounted on the side of the car.

      During the Red Bull Aeroscreen test Daniel Ricciardo was wearing a pair of glasses with a camera on them but that footage wasn’t released sadly.

  24. It’s interesting how the only thing that people here seem to care about is how it looks. But with a standard car design it can be designed to incorporate the look of the shield, where competitive f1 is much harder to integrate the design. Remember the step? It will also significantly effect aero design, again, something a standard car body across the grid has less to worry about. It’s clearly stated the reduction in wind takes away some of the noise and wind pressure on the head, which the Halo doesn’t do. Also, how it will cope with rain hasn’t been addressed. And then there is the change to optics, which F1 and Indycar both mention, not a big deal to some, but again it’s something the halo doesn’t do. The Halo may be ugly, but it preserves more of the original elements of open car racing. Anyway, it’s just a test with revisions coming so no need to get overly excited… or sanctimonious.

  25. Pity. F1 could have had this but instead, because of Vettel’s tantrum, we have the ugly monstrosity for a year at least.

  26. It doesn’t look so bad from outside the car but the view from inside it horrible, IMO.

    Also, IndyCar does NOT run in the rain. Have to wonder how well a windscreen like this would work in an F1 car in full wet conditions.

    1. They do race in the rain on road and street courses which account for 11 of the 17 races this year, so the question of whether this would work in the rain is definitely relevant.

      Here’s video of a wet IndyCar race from a few years ago.

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