IndyCar seems to have finally settled on a driver cockpit protection system and has gone with an Aeroscreen concept which almost completely encases the driver
While pretty much all FIA single-seater series’ have gone down the Halo route, IndyCar has been chasing its own alternative design.
Last year, an early windscreen concept was tested which looked almost invisible, but didn’t quite meet the necessary safety standards.
As a stop-gap solution, this year each car has sprouted a thicc wedge of titanium. Called ‘Advanced Frontal Protection’ (AFP), the device is mounted just ahead of the driver which has been designed to deflect debris away from the driver.
From 2020, however, IndyCar will be introducing an updated cockpit protection system. Based on the data gathered from its initial windscreen concept, the new device features a polycarbonate laminated screen mounted on a titanium frame. It’ll also have an anti-reflective coating, a heating element to prevent fogging, and potentially also tear-off strips.
In testing the Aeroscreen last year, drivers discovered that the lack of air flowing into the cockpit raised the temperatures, so Dallara is developing a cooling system to help stop the cockpit from turning into a slow cooker.
The titanium frame has been installed to offer added strength to the device and has been designed to withstand the same loads as F1’s Halo, so it should be pretty safe.
The Aeroscreen has been developed in conjunction with Red Bull Advanced Technologies, which is rather interesting. In 2016, Red Bull put forward its own Aeroscreen concept as an alternative to the Halo, and this new design is a little bit like a mixture of the two. Christian Horner said of Red Bull’s involvement:
“Since the first prototypes were developed and demonstrated in 2016, the potential of Aeroscreen to improve the safety for drivers in the event of frontal impacts in the cockpit area of cars has been clear. This new partnership with IndyCar gives us at Red Bull Advanced Technologies the go-ahead to fully explore that potential, and to deliver a protection system that will help prevent serious injuries and potentially save lives in the U.S.’ premier single-seater series.”
It’s another step closer to single-seaters becoming closed cockpit racers and we’re not gonna lie, it looks a little bit weird.
But then again, the Halo looked odd when it was first introduced in F1, and now we’ve got so used to it that it’s barely noticeable.
The FIA has previously said that the Halo will continue to evolve over the coming years - is this what it could end up like?