NTT IndyCar Series drivers got their first taste of running with the new aeroscreen on a superspeedway during the first Indianapolis 500 practice session Wednesday morning, and so far, initial reports have been positive.
Designed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, the driver safety device adds 58 pounds to the front of the car, and with the increase in weight having an influence on handling, plus the aeroscreen’s shape and width altering the aerodynamic wake behind each car, drivers were keen to learn about the changes it would bring while lapping at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“When you reach 200 miles an hour, you forget a little bit about that,” defending Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud said of his No. 22 Team Penske Chevy. “The aeroscreen, it’s been amazing in terms of protecting you. Obviously, it’s a big safety aspect. But the race car does feel a little bit different — not dramatically, but it’s obviously added weight to the front of the car. We’ve got a terrific baseline already, so we are making some quick changes now to see if we can change the attitude of the car, but very happy so far.”
Pagenaud was able to gain speed and draft past a few drivers during the two-hour session, which suggests the aeroscreen’s wake does not create excessive turbulence.
“I only used Josef (Newgarden) and (Charlie) Kimball out there to try and see how my car was behaving,” he added. “It seemed to be pulling really well. It’s doing great racing. So, I think this whole package might be even more interesting for the fans.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was one of two drivers to conduct aeroscreen testing at IMS last year for the IndyCar Series, and offered a similar take after his first laps with multiple cars on track.
“When we first tested it last year, it seemed to affect the car a little bit different aerodynamically,” he said of the No. 9 Honda which led the first practice session at 224mph. “But I’d say today, it felt more normal.”