America’s most famous single-seater series IndyCar is evaluating introducing a head protection device before the end of the 2018 season. Four-time champion Scott Dixon gave the aeroscreen its track debut to enable the organisers to decide about the future of the solution.
Unlike Formula One, the IndyCar Series is adamant to combine aesthetics and protection in its pursuit of improving the safety of the driver’s head. The FIA-sanctioned Formula One called as first for the need of such a device after serious crashes, some fatal, happened in different categories.
During multiple free practice sessions in 2017, the FIA tested a range of different concepts on several cars to find an appropriate solution. Sebastian Vettel was tasked in Silverstone last year to run an aeroscreen concept, but the German said he felt dizzy which made the FIA ditch that solution. The governing body then committed itself to the ‘halo’ concept.
IndyCar’s windscreen reaches just over the top of the driver’s helmet but does not fully enclose the cockpit, so it cannot be called a canopy and is visually pleasing, most likely because it's just a small difference from what the cars used to look like without such a device.
IndyCar has been work on the aeroscreen for months before it brought the device on to the track. Gabby Chaves completed multiple simulator test sessions which brought encouraging results.
Scott Dixon rolled out on the track of the Phoenix International Raceway in his Honda equipped with the aeroscreen on the 8th of February.
The New-Zealander trialled the head protection device in three different visibility conditions. His first test was completed in the sunshine. The second one was 90 minutes later as the sun was beginning to set while the final run came when it was already dark and the track was illuminated by the Musco Lighting system which is used in many stadiums and tracks like the Quatar and Abu Dhabi circuits.
Dixon was delighted with the outcome of the test and said that it was only the matter of time to get used to the device.
"Visually, I want to see if you get more used to it, because it does feel different. You're looking through quite a substantial amount of material and it just takes a while for your eyes to adjust.”
The 37-year-old said the solution has the be tested by all the other drivers before it can be introduced.
"The longer I ran, the more I adapted to it. Your brain and eyes just need to catch up with it. It could affect different guys in different ways.”
"It's almost like something everyone needs to try before IndyCar implement it across the board," said the four-time Verizon IndyCar champion.