Marcus Ericsson, Ganassi, IndyCar, Circuit of the Americas, 2020

Pictures: First test for IndyCar’s new Aeroscreen generation


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Cold, wet weather at the Circuit of the Americas limited the amount of running the 2020 IndyCar field was able to complete in the first test for the new season.

The test provided an opportunity for the drivers to get comfortable with the new Aeroscreen, developed by Red Bull Technlogies, which will be used this season.

The championship begins with the Grand Prix of St Petersburg on March 15th.

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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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  • 49 comments on “Pictures: First test for IndyCar’s new Aeroscreen generation”

    1. looks better than the halo

      1. Much better, indeed. I still remember when the early prototype of the aeroscreen for F1 was rejected after Vettel drove his Ferrari for 2 or 3 laps and claimed to be dizzy. I am still on the team for an open cockpit, but, between the hideous HALO and the tolerable aeroscreen, there is no question which one is more aesthetically pleasing.

        1. What a bunch of silly nonsense. There is a halo behind the screen, and the screen is hideous(from the front), but the truth is that aesthetics are of little importance. Safety is of utmost importance and seeing without getting dizzy is part of safety.

          1. I am wondering how fighter pilots the fly planes for nearly 7 decades and not get nauseaus?

            1. Chaitanya The answer is quite straightforward in that a fighter jet cockpit is much wider than an F1 car’s, so the windscreen SV tested had to conform to too tight an arc, which caused distortion in the extremely curved windscreen he had on his Ferrari. Fighter jets do not have this problem. The arc in their cockpit covers is less severe. Thickness of the material is relevant too, as the F1 prototype SV tried was very thick, in order to take the impact that they want it to be able to take, and fighter jets are not given windscreens with their main purpose to be withstanding the impact of a car tire hitting them at speed, albeit I’m sure they need to be strong and withstand a hit from a bird.

          2. Well said @megatron. I agree that the screen really doesn’t look good. It’s bulky, and it makes the car look like it is closed. But if it helps prevent people getting seriously injured or even killed, that is good.

        2. Are you honestly implying Vettel lied about being dizzy?
          I disagree with entirely on this looking better then the halo, this screen is utterly hideous being far more visually obstructive then the halo (you can barely see the driver). I’ll let it slide if it does it’s job, however.

      2. Anything is better than the halo

    2. A curious case when the screen looks better than the car…

    3. Twisted Throttle
      13th February 2020, 23:17

      Rain and oil will be a big problem – especially in poor light or at night. Anyone who’s ridden a big-windscreen motorcycle in the rain at night will agree.

      Looks completely silly – like a bad Photoshop attempt, but can be fixed with a windshield wiper and a roof,

      1. It rained on the first day of testing and the teams put several layers of tear-off cellophane strips to remove dirty screens. Indycars only race at night on ovals and they don’t race ovals in the rain.

        1. @photogcw – thanks, nice to know that.

        2. Twisted Throttle
          14th February 2020, 1:57

          Well, since you seem to know everything, the drivers will be perfectly safe!

        3. @charliex They run the biggest race in the world (Indy 500) during the day. That’s an oval.

          1. I think charliex meant they don’t race on street circuits at night (i.e. “IndyCar race at night only on ovals”), but sorta misplaced the “only”.

            I don’t know IndyCar, so I’m just going off how I interpreted @photogcw ‘s statement, not on fact.

            1. Yeah, well they don’t race on ovals at night either. In fact, they don’t race at night at all.

          2. Yes. The series races on 4 ovals and 2 of them are night races: Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway. And there are no night street races.

    4. The screen gives an IndyCar a completely different look. We’ll get used to it just like we did with the Halo, but it is a large component that completely changes the look of the car. It looks best with dark or black trim around it which minimizes it (Rosenqvist, etc…). Color, especially white make it look even more huge and bulkier than it is IMHO.

      It obviously provides much better protection over the Halo. Especially at places like Indy where they’re traveling at average speeds of 220 – 230 mph!

      1. It certainly protects from smaller debris that could potentially sneak through the halo, but in doing so it raises other issues such as damage, muck and debris to the screen itself.

      2. I actually think that Penske did a better job at making it aesthetically more forgiving with their livery. Take Will Power and Josef Newgarden’s car for an example. It seems to integrate better

    5. Baffles me that so many fans like it better than the halo. For me it’s so much worse aesthetically. Looks bolted on and totally messes up the cars silhouette. The head-on view is ok, but the side view is appalling. Even a closed canopy would’ve been better.

      But then again, it’s not about aestethics, is it? If it does its job and saves the drivers from injury or worse than I honestly don’t care at all about what kind of cockpit protection they use as long as it improves driver safety.

      1. It has been bolted on – they haven’t re-designed the chassis or aero to accomodate the design. (Same as the 1st generation Halo in F1 that looked really rough). To me they look quite nice but are a little too bulbous square on, but side on they look the part – it will mostly depend on glare on the TV cameras as to the views we will get. The hoop part connects higher up so we get a much bigger view of the driver – also I hope this means the in helmet cameras could work all race!

        The thing for Indycar was the Halo caused too many issues on a banked oval with the central connecting pillar (and join) blocking the view of the driver too much. (Basically where you look on an oval is exactly where the halo is).

        The Aeroscreen gives them that head protection and hopefully further protection from the catch fencing that lines oval tracks. That is IndyCar’s greatest saftey risk as they are quite far ahead with tethers (The wings and tyres are all very securely tied to the cars) and these “over the wall crashes” are where have seen the greatest impact on drivers health and lives.

    6. Why use helmet visors then? In case the aeroscreen breaks?

      1. @greenflag – I think apart from the explanation that IndyCar helmets have been visored till date, so inertia keeps them on, the other compelling reason is that since they offer eye protection, redundant protection is worthwhile compared to the smallest chance of losing eyesight, or allowing an entry-point for a fluke bit of debris that might be launched in an incident (broken bodywork, gravel, etc.).

        Maybe after some real-world racing experience across one or more seasons with the aeroscreen, they might open up the question you race and give it consideration. For now, I think the powers that be – rightly consider the aeroscreen new and unproven so they don’t want to start deleting any other safety features yet (yes, it’s been tested extensively, but anyone would like to see how it holds up in the real world).

      2. @greenflag @phylyp The AP reported that Ryan Hunter-Reay tried that:

        Calmer air around the cockpit still won’t let drivers race with an open visor, said Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay. Dust and dirt will still get in the cockpit — and now don’t get blown out.

        “I tried that. Really quick you get a lot of stuff in your eyes,” Hunter-Reay said. “The top is still open.”

        Apparently the aeroscreen creates some standing cells or dead points of airflow in the cockpit—I can’t find the story now but I recall that during a previous aeroscreen test, one of the drivers said he saw a bit of dirt or something suspended in the air inside the cockpit, and it stayed there the entire length of the straightaway.

        1. @markzastrow – thank you, that’s very interesting!

      3. @greenflag I was trying to think why the drivers need visors still, and then it struck me: FIRE. Still a hazard in Indycar due to refuelling.

        1. The fire hazard is pretty minimal during refueling– they have a safety interlock so the cars can’t drive off with the fuel hose attached, the refueling system isn’t allowed to be heavily pressurized, and they spray the fuel filler area with a water hose as the car pulls out.

          Crashing is more likely to cause a fire that affects the driver.

    7. Do we have:
      1) Any explanation of how RB Technologies were able to fix the distortion that caused dizziness when tested in F1?
      2) Any soundbites from these drivers about how it felt to drive like this?

      Let’s hope these aeroscreens are never put to the test in a crash, but if a crash occurs, let’s be grateful that this safety measure is in place.

      I’ve now become so accustomed to the halo that seeing pictures of cars without the halo makes me uncomfortable on observing how exposed the driver appears (despite his side protection).

      1. It didn’t really cause dizziness, I suspect: the only driver that tested it was Vettel, and he ferociously was opposed to it even before he tested it.

        A lot because of him I believe F1 lost the opportunity of having a more compete, safety wise, solution.

        1. Irrespective of his motives, I was definitely surprised at how quickly the aeroscreen fell out of consideration. I think he did just a handful of laps, complained, and off it went. No testing with any other drivers or cars.

          The FIA seem to have been looking more at protection from significantly heavy impacts given their eventual choice of a halo, and relying on the helmets for the smaller stuff. I think they must have been very confident in the successive improvements to the helmets after Massa’s incident at the 2009 Hungarian GP.

          1. From what was noted with the initial F1 Aeroscreen, the thickness and refractive nature of the material caused some distortion around the sides of the screen. Others besides Vettel noted this.
            People who have never worn glasses who try walking around with reading specs on can get nauseous due to the peripheral distortion. I know it does that to me. Folks who switch from conventional to progressive lenses, akin to bi-focals, have similar problems and can take several weeks to get used to them. Now try this at 250 kph, in traffic.
            Somehow Redbull Technologies, along with PPG (credit to Don) has managed to solve the refraction problem and eliminate the peripheral distortion through the screen. Brilliant is all I can say.
            There have been lots of stories in the open sportscar field of cars increasing downforce by opening holes in the floor. Wonder how long before there is a technical protest over feeding air from below into the cockpit, “driver cooling” will be the logical excuse.

          2. @phylyp, you have to bear in mind that the device you see now is significantly different to the one that Red Bull first proposed and is still very much a work in progress.

            The device, as presented by Red Bull to the FIA at the time, reportedly did still have a number of significant issues. The original screen, as I understand it, performed poorly when struck by larger debris – it could deflect significantly under load and allow that debris to strike the head of the driver with relatively little reduction in force, failing to reduce the risk of injury significantly.

            Visibility concerns were raised at the time – the updated design that we see now has a different radius of curvature, and now incorporates new surface coating to avoid issues with rain and oil adhering to it.

            Adequate cooling of the cockpit is another issue, and one that some IndyCar drivers have some reservations about given the lack of testing in the higher ambient temperatures that most IndyCar races normally take place in. During this test at COTA, the cockpit temperature was recorded as rising up to 4ºC over ambient – but, at the time the ambient temperature was only 10ºC (they actually had to suspend some sessions because it was too cold), so it really wasn’t that representative. A more typical ambient temperature might be 28-32ºC, so managing the cockpit temperatures in those conditions may be more of an issue.

            As gt-racer has mentioned previously, the design brief for IndyCar is rather different – IndyCar were concerned about smaller pieces of debris which could pass through a Halo device given that, on an oval, they tend to run at a sustained high speed for longer, whereas the FIA were more concerned about larger pieces of debris given that F1 cars tend to only hit their peak speeds for a short period of time. The level of protection that the two devices are designed to provide is different because they are designed for different tasks, so what works for one series doesn’t necessarily work for the other.

            I believe that Red Bull themselves acknowledged back in 2016 that their screen would take longer to develop as well, and the FIA was looking for something which could be implemented sooner – an area where the Halo device had an advantage, since that had less development risk associated with it and could be introduced more rapidly.

      2. @Phylyp – RB Technologies is utilizing the same PPG material that IndyCar used for their initial screen prototypes that did not have the inner Halo. The material is used in aerospace and is super clear. The design is a joint effort between IndyCar, PPG (screen), Dallara (mounting hardware), and Pankl (frame / halo) and RB Technologies who assemble it. The shape and screen material is different than what RBT used for their F1 prototype.

        1. Thank you, Don, that’s very nice info.

        2. I think another huge difference between that RB screen and the Ferrari canopy that were tested in F1, is that this screen is a LOT wider and possibly also less angled inwards/backwards so the curve of the screen is shallower @phylyp

      3. The redbull f1 device was supposed to be just a thick screen and the screen was the only part in it (and the supporting frame obviously) that was supposed to protect the driver. As such the screen had to be really thick to resist a tire impact. The indycar screen is a combination of halo and screen. The screen can be thinner which makes its optical properties less of an issue and there is the halo structure which is meant to take the big impacts. The main difference between the two is that in hard crash the indycar screen will likely break or even shatter and the device still can provide protection with the halo. Whereas in f1 if the aeroscreen screen broke the whole thing would become dangerous. Of the three options the redbull aeroscreen is weakest and couldn’t survive a tire impact. The halo can and the indycar screen+halo probably can as well.

    8. Looks like screen captures for the upcoming “Cars 4” movie. Thank heavens for the halo.

    9. From the front is just hideous.

      1. Ed, if you look at video when they walk around the screen you see how sleek and highly curved it is. You see that from 3/4 side view photos too. The view from the front has a reflection on the sides that gives it the optical illusion of being flat, which it is not.

        It really changes the look of the car and it is a large component. It doesn’t improve the looks, but it sure does improve safety. I’m sure every F1 driver would love to have it protecting them rather than just a Halo. Pretty certain they will with the next car design for 2022.

      2. I honestly think the halo looks better. The halo is far less invisible and barely changes the silhouette of the cars. When painted black the halo is almost invisible. This aeroscreen looks disproportional and something that is just attached to the car instead of being designed as a package. Which it of course is, an addon to existing car. In the end it is just aesthetics and this stuff doesn’t matter that much but as far as pure looks go it makes the indycar look very much like a toy car.

    10. Welder mask.

    11. The aeroscreen gives better protection than halo because the indycar aeroscreen is literally halo + wind screen. There is a halo behind the windscreen that is similar to what f1 uses.

    12. Glad they opted in the end for the single windscreen wiper.

      1. The mini shark fin that runs up the front nose to the top of the screen is to prevent the cars from getting airborne in an accident went rotating at very high speeds on ovals. The rear of the car has a slightly larger shark fin that is a handling aero device too, but the main purpose is the same as the front. To keep the tires on the track and prevent the cars from flying when sideways at extremely high speed accidents.

    13. it’s like someone built a batmobile racecar. I dig it. Am looking forward to seeing them race in anger

    14. It looks worse than the halo… and it must be difficult to quickly extract an injured driver. Perhaps in next generation indy looks much more better but for now is just awful.

    15. Per IndyCar, the screen can be cut away and removed in 15 seconds in an emergency situation.

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