Monaco Grand Prix – Red Bull Advanced Technologies will supply a cockpit protection system known as ‘Aeroscreen’ for IndyCar from the start of 2020.
Open cockpit motorsport series began seriously considering forms of cockpit protection in recent years, following high profile accidents and potentially avoidable fatalities. Among these were Formula 2’s Henry Surtees in 2009, who died when a wheel made contact with his helmet during a race at Brands Hatch. Felipe Massa’s serious accident at the Hungaroring later that year followed, with Jules Bianchi’s eventually fatal crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix spurred on the idea of developing cockpit protection. IndyCar also began looking into the idea following the death of Justin Wilson in a race at Pocono Raceway.
Formula 1 developed prototypes of the Halo system, as well as trialling the ‘Aeroscreen’. Red Bull were amongst the teams to try out the system on track, but Formula 1 opted for the Halo system to be introduced at the start of the 2018 season.
Two years on from that introduction, IndyCar will follow suit by introducing cockpit protection and Red Bull’s Aeroscreen concept.
The wraparound ballistic screen will be included as part of the design of the cars, and is expected to match the Halo’s 150 kiloNewtons of load-bearing capability.
One of the problems complained about the Aeroscreen by the drivers during testing was reflections and glare – this will be rectified by using anti-reflective coatings on the inside of the screens, as well as anti-fogging heating elements. Tear-off strips are also a possibility, but not yet confirmed.