It was almost one year ago to the day when the NTT IndyCar Series told its drivers a custom aeroscreen would be designed and introduced for the 2020 season.
With 25 cars in attendance carrying the Red Bull Advanced Technologies-designed driver safety device for this week’s open test at Circuit of The Americas, the intensive efforts to mass produce and install the multi-purpose driver protection unit has met its desired outcome. And, with rain in the forecast for the test, drivers will have plenty of chances to offer feedback on its functionality with visibility and cockpit cooling during the four long sessions at COTA.
“We’ve done over 1500 laps and 2000 miles of testing with the aeroscreen so far,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “It overwhelmingly passed our tests, and now it’s the teams who will carry it forward. We’ll learn more here at COTA. And if anything jumps out to implement before our first race at St. Petersburg, we have time to investigate and see what we can do.”
Frye praised the partners involved with supplying the field with aeroscreens in time for the February 11-12 Open Test visit to Texas.
“It wasn’t easy, but full credit to Red Bull and its Advanced Technologies team for making this come together quickly and smoothly,” he said. “And Pankl, which makes the frame; PPG, which make the screen; and Dallara, which make the mounting points on the chassis. It was truly a collaborative effort where all the partners worked together to get us to where we are.”
During Monday’s media day in Austin, Carlin Racing driver Max Chilton told those in attendance that IndyCar was prepared to remove the aeroscreens and let the field run without them in conditions where visibility was poor. Frye disputed the claim.
“Is it possible to race without it?” he said. “Yes, it’s possible, because it detaches; but no, there’s no intention to race without it. It’s meant to be a total driver safety solution with it married together with the car.”