The second test of IndyCar’s Red Bull Advanced Technologies-designed aeroscreen was met by rain on Monday at Barber Motorsports Park. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud were tasked with using the cockpit protection device, and according to the winner of the 2019 Indianapolis 500, the aeroscreen performed as expected.
“It’s well-advanced; it’s been made by Red Bull and IndyCar together, so it’s serious business. They have a system that’s ready to go,” Pagenaud told RACER.
Mirroring the feedback from Penske teammate Will Power, who sampled the aeroscreen at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week, cockpit cooling improvements – to increase or decrease flow as desired – will be needed in the final version of the aeroscreen.
“The biggest work is to make sure we have the right cooling for drivers based on conditions,” he said. “It’s October; the first race is in March, and they have time.”
Hunter-Reay was similarly optimistic.
“We worked a lot on getting airflow pointed at and into the helmet,” he said. “Our helmets are designed for 200mph-plus air, and are meant to distribute it around the driver’s head. No vent can reproduce that, so we tried different ducts and extensions, and by the end of the day, we found a good option.”
As a sports car champion in the ALMS and former member of the factory Peugeot LMP1 program, Pagenaud has spent untold hours of his career behind the wheel of high-speed machines with windshields. Testing an IndyCar with the aeroscreen, in the rain, without a windshield wiper, proved to be a non-issue.
“It rained today and we had a chance to drive in it and I thought it was great,” he said. “I wish Ryan and I had more time to run behind each other, but the water dispersed better on the aeroscreen than it does on our helmets. I actually think it will be better to use in the rain; because of the shape of the screen, the water was dispersing quicker than on our helmets. Fogging wasn’t an issue; there’s a defrosting system in the screen and it works. Good surprises. It was awesome to see what they came up with. I just praise the safety of it.”
Pagenaud also expressed his appreciation for the appearance of the aeroscreen.
“I like changes and technology, and think the car looks more futuristic with it,” he opined. “I think it looks intriguing. I’m excited. I only see positives. We all know we needed head protection, and we’ve seen what’s happened to our friends without it.”