The NTT IndyCar Series has a second iteration of its aeroscreen in development for 2024. If all of the targets are met, it will carve a significant amount of weight from the first version of the driver protection device.
Introduced in 2020, the system designed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies and built in a collaboration between Pankl, PPG, and Dallara, came in at 52.27 pounds.
Through a new additive manufacturing processes devised for the titanium halo, Pankl expects to take the current version’s 27-pound weight down to something in the 13-14-pound range. PPG’s 17.3-pound polycarbonate screen is also on target to fall just below the 14-pound mark. Combined, the aeroscreen 2.0 could shed nearly 17 pounds and fall near 35 pounds in total to help counteract the increase in weight coming with 2024’s new hybrid engine package.
“When Red Bull developed the first version of the one that we’re currently running, the Phase 2 version was already in the works,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “This was part of the plan. It’ll look the same externally, and internally, the Pankl piece will be made from a honeycomb-type configuration that will reduce the weight by up to 50-percent of what it currently is. They do a fabulous job. The technology’s amazing.
“And PPG, they’re also fantastic, and I would say we’re probably looking at 20-percent less. This will be a worthwhile exercise. It’s done everything that we thought it would do and then some, and now going forward we have the opportunity to lighten it up, which will help the overall weight of the car, which is good.”
The 2024 aeroscreen will be asked to bear the same load of 30,000 pounds of force as the original model in the event of an impact.
“From a safety perspective, it wouldn’t change from a load bearing capability,” Frye said. “We got to a certain point and stopped when we got to the limit we were looking for, but we could have probably kept going.”
A more pressing item related to the aeroscreen involves finding a solution for managing heavy rain. In the wake of the recent Indianapolis Grand Prix where a number of drivers said they could not see through the aeroscreen when the rainfall and spray coming off cars was at its worst, Frye said the series started gathering data and feedback from its teams right after the event.
“We’ve never been able to put the aeroscreen through a test like that,” he said. “And that was 27 cars, raining as hard as it was raining there on the front stretch. It was a huge test that gave us an understanding of what it does in those conditions. So do we think it passed the test? Absolutely. That’s good. But, again, what can we do to make a difference? It’s like when we were dealing with heat when it came out and we asked the teams what they were doing to manage it.
“So we’ll go collect data off of all the teams, see what they did in the race; did they remove tearoffs at every stop? Only the early stops? Apply something? Because some drivers said they had no issues and others said that they did, so we’ll collect it all and then decide which direction to go.”