Defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden declared only ‘small improvements’ are needed to the series’ prototype protective windscreen, following a test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IndyCar’s answer to ‘halo’ hits the Speedway
As part of IndyCar’s first open test in preparation for the 102nd running of the Indy 500, Newgarden ran a series of laps at in excess of 220mph using the screen. Following an initial test by Scott Dixon at ISM Raceway, the Penske driver was the latest IndyCar racer to sample the series’ answer to F1’s much-maligned ‘halo’.
“It was fascinating. It was totally different for an open-wheel car. You’re not used to having a windscreen that big in front of you, but it was interesting to try it out”, said the 27-year-old who claimed his maiden IndyCar championship last year.
Room to improve IndyCar windscreen visibility and clarity
The most significant challenge for Newgarden – driving the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet – was the interaction between the screen and the visor on his helmet: “The most interesting thing to me was the visor changes. Going from a fully-smoke visor to a clear visor was better. It helped with the visibility and the clarity.”
Following feedback from Dixon’s test earlier in the year, the latest version of the prototype was fitted with a central air inlet to improve circulation. During testing at ISM Raceway Dixon had experienced rapidly rising cockpit air temperatures, a result of the lack of airflow into and around the traditionally open cockpit.
Newgarden: only ‘small improvements’ needed
IndyCar has yet to commit to a timescale for the introduction of the windscreen but Newgarden believes only minor changes are needed to make it competition ready: “There’s small improvements to be made, especially with the clarity with the visors and the perception to see through it. It was easy to make it work, I didn’t have any major issues with it, and I think IndyCar did a nice job.”
Though no details on further testing of the windscreen have been confirmed, it is anticipated that the series will trial the windscreen on a road course during the 2018 season.