The Red Bull designed Aeroscreen that will be introduced to the NTT IndyCar Series next year was tested on-track for the first time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Former Indianapolis 500 winners and IndyCar champions, Scott Dixon and Will Power, took to the track to test the Aeroscreen, with both hailing the test as a massive success after encountering only minor issues.
It was announced back in May that the Red Bull designed Aeroscreen would be introduced to the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series, with the championship endeavouring to improve safety standards following similar efforts from single-seater championships such as Formula 1 and Formula E. The Aeroscreen is a polycarbonate laminated screen that is fitted around a HALO-style framework.
Today’s running at Indianapolis marked the first on-track test for the Red Bull Aeroscreen, following on from a similar test for a slightly different concept at ISM Raceway last year. Team Penske‘s Will Power and Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon took to the track for a number of runs throughout the day. Power completed 129 laps with a best lap of 224.591-mph, with Dixon not far behind with a best lap of 224.501-mph after 128 laps.
No major issues were reported by either driver during the course of the day’s running, with both drivers even going so far as to state that they would be happy to race with the Aeroscreen in it’s current form tomorrow if they had to. After the running was completed, IndyCar President Jay Frye commented that the test had exceeded his expectations and that a lot had been learned.
“We had pretty high expectations, and we’ve probably exceeded them already,” Frye said. “I think it’s done everything we thought it would do and then some. Obviously, we’ve learned a lot.
“I think the most important thing is the foundation is right … and it’s been a very turn-key event, so we’re really proud of that.”
“This is a total industry-changing driver safety solution, so we couldn’t be more proud of it. This is, to me, a game-changer – this is big. This is something that will really change the complexion of the sport for a long time to come.”
Previously identified potential issues with the Aeroscreen had included visibility, glare, head buffeting and car handling. However, none of those potential issues surfaced. Power, in particular, spoke about how impressed he was with the day’s running and went on to state that drivers will feel much more comfortable racing with the Aeroscreen in a short amount of time.
“I’m so impressed with how quickly all this came together,” Power said. “To have the first run in and really no major issues … it’s just little things that need to be worked on.”
“I’m so happy that we have it [the Aeroscreen]. It’s really a huge step in safety, and I think it’s the best of both worlds. You’ve got the halo and you’ve got a screen, so I think that you’ll see other open-wheel categories follow suit. When you’ve driven it for a day, you’re going to feel naked without it.”
Dixon had previously conducted a simulator test of the Aeroscreen with Dallara earlier in the year. He was also behind the wheel for the first windshield concept test last year. After today’s test, Dixon echoed Power in stating that the test was “pretty much seamless”, only identifying minor issues that could easily be rectified in the next few months.
“It’s been an intense project and one that I think a lot of people have done their due diligence on to get it to this point,” Dixon said. “Today’s been pretty much seamless.”
“There’s actually a lot less load on the helmet. Visually, there’s been no [issue]. Some of the areas with tear-offs and where they seam in the middle will be sort of fixed down the road to make it better.”
The Aeroscreen will undergo three further on-track tests within the next few weeks, with a host of IndyCar veterans set to take the various circuits across the United States to test the screen in a number of environments. Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay will take to Barber Motorsports Park next Monday, October 7.
The following week, on Tuesday, October 15, Dixon will be back on-track alongside newly-crowned champion Josef Newgarden at the returning short-oval of Richmond Raceway. The final planned test will take place on Tuesday, November 5, with James Hinchcliffe and Sebastien Bourdais taking to Sebring International Raceway to try and simulate street circuit running.