Scott Dixon, Ganassi, IndyCar, Texas Motor Speedway, 2020

New Aeroscreen makes IndyCar “a very different animal” to drive

IndyCar

Posted on

| Written by

IndyCar’s new Aeroscreen has significantly altered the handling of its long-serving DW12 chassis, drivers said following its first race with the new safety device.

Yesterday’s 200-lap race at the Texas Motor Speedway marked the debut for the new safety screen which the championship developed in conjunction with Red Bull Technologies.

Josef Newgarden, who took pole position for the race, described how the team had changed their set-up compared to last year. He said his car didn’t feel as “stuck” to the road as last year even with a high downforce set-up on his car in superspeedway trim.

“[Running] max downforce was a lot harder this year than it was last year,” he said after qualifying. “Part of that is the Aeroscreen, it has more weight.

“Mechanically it’s a little more difficult to drive with more weight up higher, higher [centre of gravity], forward weight distribution. Also the shaping of the Aeroscreen, it does have a very small downforce loss.”

“The tyres are reacting differently with the weight,” he added. “Not just having more weight but having the weight forward. It’s actually a very big shift for the tyres.”

IndyCar ran several pre-season tests with the screen to reduce any impact on the drivers’ vision.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“Other than the handling differences, I didn’t notice the screen, to be quite honest with you,” said Newgarden. “You can take that as a very good thing. I didn’t notice it.

Josef Newgarden, Penske, IndyCar, Texas Motor Speedway, 2020
Newgarden said the Aeroscreen didn’t affect his view of the track
“It felt like a normal IndyCar race to me. I didn’t notice a big difference to last year. The handling is different in the car, but as far as the driver’s experience, I don’t even [notice] the thing anymore. It’s crazy how good of a job they’ve done with the ducting. The visibility was fine. I had zero issues with it from that standpoint.

“[But it’s a] very different animal to drive. Mechanically you had to work with it a lot.”

Newgarden’s team mate Simon Pagenaud felt his car has “changed dramatically” compared to last year and the teams had little time to react with practice, qualifying and the race all taking place on the same day.

“Obviously today, one day, [it] wasn’t very easy to do that,” he said, “It was good to have a whole race and be able to figure out what we need to do for the future going forward.

But same as Josef, you just feel it’s safe. You feel like if anything happens, your face is protected. That’s awesome. That’s awesome to see that IndyCar has made such a leap forward in safety. Personally, I’m very thankful that we’re in that era with Josef and the others.

Obviously, safety is big. We go very high speeds. Things can get safer, it’s pretty awesome. That is a big positive.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

IndyCar

Browse all IndyCar articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories IndyCarTags

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 51 comments on “New Aeroscreen makes IndyCar “a very different animal” to drive”

    1. Great. Let’s get these in F1 instead of the stupid things we’ve got.

      1. @falken I don’t think we’ll see these in F1 as per my comment below.

      2. Sigh, I’m already looking forward to everyone saying how heavy the cars have become once again. That aeroscreen is sure to add several kilos of extra weight (I’d be fine with that personally, if it helps keep the drivers safe) @falken.

        1. Yep, fully agree @bascb

      3. I think they’re hideous compared to the halo.

        1. At testing I seem to remember them being smaller than this?

          Now? Blugh. I don’t like the Halo (but of course want safety for the drivers so have no issue with for that reason), but after seeing these last night, OMG the Halo wins hands down.

        2. yes.. even worse looking than the ‘halo’ device….if they want to go with screen… then the only way is to close the cockpit in a style of a military jet cabin cover.. otherwise it will ( does) look horrendous.

          1. @Jay

            They should have stuck with the halo. IndyCar has made a mess of it.

        3. @coldfly

          Totally agree. IndyCars now look like toilet seats with wheels.

      4. Aeroscreen is effectively Halo + Screen. If you oppose halo you should hate this even more as it is halo along with a pretty big and ugly screen.

        If you are worried thah halo is not safe enough, I can understand calling for aeroscreen.

        For me, halo wins hands down. Maybe it will look better when the car is designed from the ground up for the aeroscreen.

      5. Aeroscreen has a halo in the inside but for the eye it looks much better. I rather see half of the aero and half of the Halo.
        Upperpart Halo and instead of the central bar the screen with 2 smaller sidebars.

        This screen is bolted on which gives that look when designed the chassis with the screen i think they could much better.
        Look at the HALO first bolted on then designed into the chasis looks much better (stil hate the central part)

    2. Sounds like a major success then.

    3. Interesting comments. With regards to F1 though and their discussions about such a thing as an aeroscreen, I’m assuming it’s not even a consideration anymore. IndyCars are far less aero dependent than F1 cars, and so have only experienced a small change aerodynamically. F1 cars would need to be designed from the ground up for such a thing, and from what I can gather the new generation cars that are coming are not incorporating anything more than a better integrated halo than the bolt-on one they are using now. To me another outstanding big question is that IndyCar, like F1, races in the rain. What will they do for visibility on rainy days?

      In general I found the aeroscreens looking too big for the cars, but didn’t really mind the appearance. Perhaps when they have bigger wings in the back for road and street courses the aeroscreen will look more proportional.

      1. @robbie IndyCars are still reasonably heavily aero dependent cars – the figure I’ve seen thrown around is about 5,200lb at 200mph, or about 2,360kg, which is not exactly insubstantial.

        The more likely reasons why I could see the Aeroscreen not being used in F1 though are the ancillary effects – the change in handling balance, with the centre of pressure being shifted forwards, sounds like a fairly significant change, but more concerning are the reports that it’s proving to be more difficult for them to prevent excessive heat build up in the cockpit than first anticipated.

        That was one of the larger concerns the series had before they started the screens, and it was an unknown factor because most of the testing had taken place in cooler conditions or with cars running by themselves. IndyCar had conceded that temperatures were likely to increase in the cockpit, but the indication from Texas is that temperatures were higher than expected – one poster here reporting a peak of about 49ºC – which I could see being a concern for driver welfare.

        1. Anon I’m sure aero is an important factor in IndyCar too, but I think it is safe to say F1 cars are much much more sensitive to changes in aero as they have spent billions on the science. Your suggestion of heat buildup inside the cockpit is I’m sure accurate even though the drivers didn’t seem to mention it. I also expected them to say it was quieter in the cockpit which is one thing I heard a driver say who had tested it last year. The actual physical weight of it and the change to the CG is there too.

          But for me there is no getting around how drastically I believe F1 cars would have to be changed to accommodate the IndyCar aeroscreen. How much air would be getting into the airbox? How different would the air be at the sides of the car behind the driver and hitting the rear wing? I think the answers to those questions would see that they would totally have to rethink the airbox and the back end of the car which in turn would cause a total rethink of the front, and no doubt the floor as well.

    4. I have always preferred the screen to the halo for reasons of safety and aesthetics. At most angles the screen looks fine but some head on shots seem a tad distorted. That is small beer though. The safety aspect is really the deal breaker and the specs would indicate that it is far superior to the halo which appears to still not save a driver much from head on debris. Hopefully we’ll see the screen in F1 soon…’22 possibly?

      1. I don’t think we’ll see it in F1 anytime soon. As far as I know, they have not planned to incorporate an aeroscreen on the newly designed cars, and that was the time to do it. My understanding is that they will instead incorporate the halo, except that it should no longer look like a bolt-on add-on.

        To me, for F1 there are just too many obstacles to the aeroscreen concept. Compared to IndyCar, F1 cars are much more aero dependent and aero sensitive and so would be hugely affected by an aeroscreen unless they totally designed the cars from the ground up with the aeroscreen in mind. That I’m aware of they are not doing this.

        F1 has not been concerned with small debris as that is not nearly as big a risk to the drivers as large debris, which the halo can handle. I think an outstanding question remains for IndyCar as to visibility on wet race days, as would be one issue amongst many others for F1 too.

        1. F1 is only one significant incident away from introducing it themselves.
          It would only take one injury or near-miss to convince them to follow Indycar into the full cockpit protection.

          Safety will determine when it comes, not aero or aesthetics.

          1. S I suggest F1 has already had the incidents that have convinced them to go with the halo, and is why they still aren’t going with the aeroscreen even with a revolutionary ground up restoration for the new era, now starting in 2022 instead of next year.

        2. Actualy last year Lewis had a close encouter with debrie (leclerc driving with a broken front wing) and said if the debrie was just a few centimeter to the left he would be hit. Debrie was smashed against his mirror which flailed and the shatter he found some in his cockpit. (his crew did ofcourse)
          A screen would be much better (combined screen halo) also at the gp of canada 2 years ago Grosjean got debri inside his cockpit and had to push out the pieces (in turn 1) when he drove on the grass.

        3. Filipe Massa would probably disagree with your lack of concern wiht small debris. Halo would not have protected him in his incident at Hungary.

          Indycar has tested the windscreen in the wet and has incorporated electric demisters into the windscreen design in addition to tear offs for filth.

      2. “some head on shots seem a tad distorted”
        Yeah, looks ‘wide at the top’ when the cars are coming straight towards us.
        In other views it looks pretty darn good.

        1. It looks a lot more vertical front on, but quite sleek in profile. I guess because the driver has to exit the car with the screen in place, they couldn’t taper the sides in more.

          Also, like the halo, some liveries suit the screen better than others.

    5. IndyCar 1
      Formula One 0
      Fans 10

    6. Observing the AeroScreen last night made me think that Formula one may now have the opportunity to join ranks with many other forms of transportation and begin using the canopy as a means to better the Halo by developing a AeroScreen shape that fits the postponed to major 2022 rule changes and commit to it. You gotta admit that the AeroScreen looks pretty darn cool in some angles. At other times looks goofy as the shape itself could be tidier. Like they ordered three foot long AeroScreens but got four foot long units. And decided to just use them any way.
      So get on with the program and do justice to this most interesting shape. A protective roof over their heads and Formula One could raise the game of protection for drivers teammates and fans. Build it cool and do it right so F1 remains on top as the great challenge the best drivers hope to have success in.
      Today F1 realizes what’s could be by what is seen. Go canopies they look great

      1. Can’t see it happening for reasons I’ve expressed above.

        1. Jet fighters use the canopy
          200mph Hydroplanes use the double escape hatch canopy
          Air Racing planes use the canopy.
          Land Speed Record cars use the canopy
          Now Indycars use the canopy.

          Why not Formula One ???

          You state all these facts that support your wealth of knowledge on how pushing a Racing machine forward will create Varying pressure differentials and how the CG will rise and the performance then goes away. Don’t rule changes like the upcoming 2022 season create many of the issues or challenges you state anyway? Rule changes impact performance in theory so what difference in a year of major changes would adding a canopy make?? All face figuring it out so if all go to canopies and at the first GP of a new season your argument grows pale. Everyone would be on a level playing field And that’s when the mindsets of the great visionaries begin to stir. Make these cars safer like the evidence shows all over earth canopies save lives.

          1. John Edwards
            8th June 2020, 10:12

            Definitely agree Holmzini !
            Indy and F1 are doing 200+ mph and need frontal protection for the head. Remember when Massa got hit by the suspension spring. That could have easily gone inside a Halo but the screen would have deflected it. I personally think that screens look a lot nicer on the cars and look like the Indy and F1 cars of the 70’s.

          2. HOLMZINI Just to be clear IndyCar is not using a canopy…it’s open at the top unlike jet fighters, hydroplanes, air racing planes, and land speed record cars. That makes a big difference when you consider that I’m going to ask you then for your suggestions as to how, in the tiny cockpit of an F1 car, they are to deal with heat buildup, and condensation, amongst several other issues.

            The vehicles you describe all have much bigger cockpits to have a canopy wrapped around them and to accommodate things like cooling vents and fans. I suggest that in order to accommodate a fully enclosed canopy on an F1 car, the car would pretty much have to be made like a P1 class WEC car. And that’s not what F1 is.

            1. I agree with what you are describing in your response.
              Yes I went immediately to the canopy concept fully knowing the ones currently in use are larger than the cockpit areas of current F1 cars. Arguments like the driver can’t be seen in a canopy is nonsense, no more so than the hiding behind a Halo. I look to F1 as the development group In the Sport and see how they changed Motorsport by introducing the Halo. Now the sport could step up again and develop a small compact piece of kit that will protect drivers unlike anything before. The sports history is riddled with constant change always with intent to protect drivers and fans while getting down the road. F1 is ready to lead the new direction of safety and like always it helps lower series too. Besides the canopy will forever raise the game for FormulaOne. They would look unbelievably cool.

            2. HOLMZINI Fair enough. I just think we have already seen the evidence that F1 is not going to change the cars drastically to accommodate a canopy or even an aeroscreen when they have apparently decided already that the halo is the way to go. The halo will look much better on the new cars that will have integrated them into their design rather than having it look bolted on. The halo will not completely disrupt the general appearance and aero performance of the cars. The halo will protect the drivers from large debris which was the impetus for their move to such a device to begin with, as small debris has not been the concern…their visors have been bolstered for that.

    7. Unpopular opinion: the halo looks a lot better. These look like something from Cars The Movie

      1. I agree completely. The screens are butt ugly. I’m all for them from a safety point of view, but I’m glad F1 went with the halo.

      2. I agree, and you just cant see the driver at all from outside the car. It just feels more….remote.

    8. Looks like the cars just got back from the Vet!

    9. winner winner! completly agree!

    10. Hate it. Hate F-1’s halo. Yeah safety is important. I dont think race drivers are even thinking about that level of catastrophe occurring. When you are, it’s time to step out. I think it promotes over regulation and dilutes the fan experience.

      1. Simon Pagenaud:

        “But same as Josef, you just feel it’s safe. You feel like if anything happens, your face is protected. That’s awesome. That’s awesome to see that IndyCar has made such a leap forward in safety. Personally, I’m very thankful that we’re in that era with Josef and the others.

        Obviously, safety is big. We go very high speeds. Things can get safer, it’s pretty awesome. That is a big positive.”

    11. Imagine if F1 did this, half the drivers would complain.

      Indy guys only two positive drivers are covered, and all how awesome it is for protecting the head and face.

      Great.

      To be honest it looks good. Something F1 failed a bit with Halo. I predict within 2 years F1 will have this.

    12. I’m mostly amazed at how big a difference these seem to have made.
      nothing new on the esthetics, it looks ugly, but that’s hardly relevant I guess

    13. Roberta Godsil
      8th June 2020, 1:40

      Though I do congratulate Dixon today on his match of Foyt’s record.
      I think back to Dixon’s spectacular crash at Indianapolis in 2017 San’s aeroscreen.
      That crash was so spectacular in part due to fortune smiling on him that day.
      Just enough danger to maintain my Indycar interest still existed.

      I did not view the race today.
      I would have tuned out the instant I saw an aeroscreen, as next in line is a climate controlled bubbletop.

      Indycar has become too marshmallow and pumpkin spice for me, this day.

      1. What on earth are you on about?

    14. The Halo, alternatively called The Front Roll Hoop, was designed to take a big frontal impact and support the car if inverted. How structural is the Aeroscreen and can it take the hit from a bouncing wheel, one of the design criteria for the Halo.?
      It will likely be inevitable in F1 at some point, but the aero impact will be more significant. With a spec chassis and aero kit, it doesn’t really matter what the aero effects are. They are the same for everyone. In F1, the teams will spend load$ on trying to integrate it into the overall package. Someone someday is going to drill holes in the floor to let the rain out and cool the driver. Hint … it will increase downforce too.

      1. Behind the aeoscreen is a halo so a wheel inpact does the same as a only halo.

    15. I don’t see the point of this at all. It isn’t open-cockpit racing anymore, so you might as well go to closed cockpits, which are safer still, and have fewer performance compromises.

      1. The top opening is exactly the same dimensions as the cockpit opening in the tub.

    16. Hmm after reading some comments, the aeroscreen will no be in f1 any time soon, its ugly(more than the halo)
      it has a lot of issues to dealt with it first. i read some people ” oh small debris ohh my god” Nothing ever happened to driver for small debris except Massa in the last 10 years, these guys are racing at 300 km/h there always be a risk also there are new helmets and halo now, its a fair compromise between safety and looks, until all the problems that the canopy could bring to F1 are fixed we won’t see it. perhaps until 2026.

    17. 1. Halo was a nonstarter for Indycars because of visibility on the ovals.
      2. Safety is most important.

    18. NeverElectric
      10th June 2020, 4:22

      Those old English movies, with knights jousting in full medieval headgear and what not…..when I look at the Indy cars, that’s what comes to mind.
      Safety is paramount though.

    19. tony mansell
      10th June 2020, 9:26

      My life. Power Rangers are back and this time no ones watching. Lets just have done with it and go fully enclosed, these are a joke to look at. Shame, as Indy is a better series to watch for drama than f1, in this era. But that’s been hit by an ugly bus. If you think you will inspire 10 yr olds to watch these airfix bargain bins, you’re kidding yourselves.

    20. John Edwards
      10th June 2020, 12:04

      I think they look ok, side on they look good, alittle ungainly from the front but the halo looks cumv=bersome in every angle.

      It looks like a less of a afterthought than the halo and it does actually give debris protection which the halo does not.

    Comments are closed.