Formula 1 implemented its “halo” driver head protection device for the 2018 racing season and the technology has slowly been trickling to other open wheel series including Formula 2, Formula 3 and Super Formula.
But IndyCar is still running with fully open cockpits and no driver head protection devices, despite Justin Wilson’s fatal accident at Pocono being one of the main catalysts behind the introduction of the halo. The series has been working on solution for the past couple years, however, and has now announced a partnership with Red Bull Advanced Technologies to introduce a halo-style device for 2020.
Unlike the Formula 1 halo, the IndyCar cockpit protection device combines a ballistic aeroscreen with titanum halo-style framework. This design protect drivers from large chunks of debris, like the Dallara nosecone that hit Wilson for example, and will also have a load-bearing weight should it come in contact with a wall or another car. IndyCar says the device will withstand 150 kilonewtons of force, making it equally as robust as the Formula 1 halo.
The halo-style framework will be positioned high enough and out of the way of the driver’s line of sight, ensuring it does not obstruct their vision on oval tracks like Texas or Pocono.
Red Bull has already provided a digital mock-up of the device, which looks like a more refined version of the concept aeroscreen IndyCar test on Scott Dixon’s car last year.
“This collaborative effort on the Aeroscreen between Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Dallara and INDYCAR truly exhibits an unrelenting commitment and passion for enhancing driver safety,” said IndyCar president Jay Frye. “We would like to thank everyone at Red Bull Advanced Technologies for creating a design that will be significant in the evolution of motorsports safety, not only for the NTT IndyCar Series but from a global perspective.”
IndyCar says it is “tentatively planning on-track testing by selected NTT IndyCar Series drivers,” for this summer, with approved aeroscreens set to be delivered to all teams by the fall. The system will attach to the existing Dallara chassis, mounting at the chassis centerline, the sides and integrating into the roll hoop. It will also feature a cockpit cooling device (the vent just ahead of the cockpit) that will ensure the driver receives ample airflow during the race.
Photos via IndyCar