The FIA is working “very closely” with IndyCar on the development of the windscreen (pictured above) in order to understand its future viability for Formula 1, RACER has learned.
Following development over the past two years, the FIA has adopted the Halo cockpit protection device (pictured below) in a number of its championships, with Formula 1, Formula 2 and the next generation Formula E car all carrying the concept this year. That choice came after brief track testing of a screen in Silverstone last year, with IndyCar then testing a similar windscreen solution at Phoenix this week.
FIA safety delegate Laurent Mekies says the IndyCar development is something the governing body was aware of and has been involved in as part of its head protection research.
“Of course we have seen it,” Mekies told RACER. “As far as safety is concerned we work closely with all other motorsport stakeholders. Four times a year during our research working group we meet with all the key players for safety research. So we meet with IndyCar, we meet with NASCAR, we meet with the guys in V8 Supercars in Australia, so we are completely aware of what each other are doing.
“They know exactly what we’ve done in the genesis of the Halo and we know that they have been pursuing to explore the route of a screen. So the exchange does work, I think it’s quite clear today what the advantages and the downsides are of the solutions. It’s very good that IndyCar is putting some energy in trying to develop solutions and maybe it can complement the work we’re doing one day.
“We’ll catch up with them very, very soon actually – in a couple of weeks. It’s a small community and we communicate on a regular basis.”
Asked if the FIA would want to conduct its own research on the windscreen solution or if the IndyCar development could make its way to F1, Mekies replied: “As far as the research is concerned, we always try to share what we do.
“So typically we have referred to [IndyCar] to do impact testing on the solutions based on all the impact testing work that we have done. We have met with them and actually even with the company that has the screen thanks to them a few times. So it’s completely going in both directions, so one could benefit from the other and vice versa.”
However, Mekies admits the windscreen will “not necessarily” adhere to the same safety standards as the Halo as a different solution could also provide a different type of protection.
“One of the key aspects is to pick a load case – what are you trying to protect against? There is no absolute truth with that; nobody is wrong and nobody is right. You choose what you try to protect against, and after that you have to accept if something more than that happens it won’t help, or not as much as is needed.
“We’ll catch up to see where the items they tried puts them in terms of protection level. You might remember that we had ourselves scanned different protection levels. The shield itself we tried at Silverstone last year had a slightly reduced protection level, so it’s a matter of finding a good compromise.
“It’s very good that such an important player as IndyCar is getting very involved in this, and as I said we are working very closely with them.”