The NTT IndyCar Series will move forward with a new cockpit protection device it has named the ‘Advanced Frontal Protection’ (AFP) device. The three-inch tall, 0.750-inch wide titanium piece replaces the windscreen unit tested by the series at Phoenix International Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.
Manufactured by Dallara, the AFP will be used for the first time by all teams during the April 24 test at IMS, and will make its formal debut once practice starts in May for the 103rd Indianapolis 500. Once the Indy 500 is complete, the AFPs will remain in place as mandatory items fitted for every remaining race in 2019.
“Safety is a never-ending pursuit, and this is INDYCAR’s latest step in the evolution,” said IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “There are more details to come about the phases to follow.”
The vertical device, which sits atop the chassis at the leading edge of the cockpit, is meant to interact with oncoming debris that might strike a driver’s helmet. Based on its short height and narrow width, the AFP would appear to serve the greatest value for items approaching the cockpit in a low, broadside manner. Projectile-like debris that does not arrive on a low, centerline trajectory, would not seem to be part of the AFP’s deflection capabilities.
Following its track tests, IndyCar’s windscreen, made from the ballistic material Opticor manufactured by PPG, has undergone impact testing at the company’s facility in Alabama where, according to the series, more development is needed “before INDYCAR could implement its use.”
It’s believed the AFP is a short-term solution for the upcoming season, and could be replaced by a new cockpit protection device as early as 2020.