Since the death of Dan Wheldon in 2011 and, especially, the Justin Wilson in 2015, the IndyCar has actively sought ways to protect their pilots against the impacts on the helmet, in particular from those produced by debris on the track. The category had reported a particular interest in the systems that the FIA has been developed for Formula 1 in those years, and has not been immune to the presentation of the first prototype of ‘shield’ or a shield, to the point that, like the Formula 1, plans to try a version of such a device this summer.
In the next two months, the IndyCar will be four “approval test” with the single-seater modified that will be used from next year, a comprehensive redesign of the DW12 introduced in 2012. The test will be carried out with two cars, one with engine of the Chevrolet piloted by the colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, and the other with a Honda engine that will handle the Spanish pilot Oriol Servià. The first of these will take place within two weeks, the oval of Indianapolis (25-26 July), giving way to Mid-Ohio (1 August), the oval of Iowa (August 28) and the version club circuit Sebring (26 September). In one of them, it is expected that the Shield will make act of presence.
The president of operations of the IndyCar series, Jay Frye, has not confirmed on what the test will occur on those tests, but if it has claimed, in statements to Autosport.com that the category is intended to carry them out, and that the model used will be somewhat different in design to that shown by the FIA to avoid potential problems of visibility: “If we ended up using a screen, such as the Shield of the Formula 1, probably we would look to something a little more vertical, less inclined. Right now, I would say that is one of the two versions that we want to prove, possibly in one of the four test approval”.
“We have been working on devices potential from more than a year ago, and have sought in particular a standard resource that can work on any site, so diverse is our class in terms of circuits. The Halo would not work on a site like Texas for visibility in ovals peraltados”, says Frye, whose other major concern lies in the possible distortion, especially on ovals, where the pilots should be able to look over: “We have examined numerous options in simulators, but we have to look carefully at the problems of distortion, in particular the amount of adjustments a driver has to do if he looks over and turns to look through it. We don’t want a big difference of perception to 220 miles per hour, or braking system that is strong in that it attempts to judge the distance with the car ahead of him”.
Despite the fact that the design of the Shield eliminates a lot of concerns about the extraction of the pilot in a rollover, as if it was the case with the Halo, Frye maintains their doubts on how she would react to the material of the Shield “in an accident like Scott Dixon or Sebastien Bourdais in Indy, when the car is fully invested,”. For this reason, IndyCar has consulted to the country’s armed forces on the materials used in their fighter jets: “What I like about this is that a pilot can still exit the car by itself, because it does not reduce the opening of the cabin, but even so, everything has an effect, so what would happen with the device? What would bend, it would break, how it would loosen up? Know the materials of ballistic protection used in military applications has been of much help, because the pilots are able to look through them and not have severe distortion, even being a single piece with many curves. And if you, the teams of the NHRA have also offered council”.
Some of the drivers of IndyCar questioned by Motorsport.com on your review and have been very pleased with the idea and the execution, although it raises several issues: James Hinchcliffe, who suffered a concussion in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis 2014 to receive the impact of a piece of wing on the helmet, and Charlie Kimball put as a key factor for your approval the topic of visibility, something that, for Max Chilton, it would not be a commitment to unacceptable, if the loss compensates the profit:
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “it Seems like the right idea for us. Absolutely. If the test shows that they work from the point of view of the vision, and if we can do that has the enough height for a pilot to look through, and not above, we have to bet on it, there is no reason for you not to carry. When the pilots have to get out of the car by themselves after an accident, you can see that everything will be okay. I think that is the future, of truth. From the beginning, when we were taught the designs of something similar in an IndyCar, I think we liked it all. It is functional, stylish and safe. That is to say, the IndyCar from the 80’s had windshield flexible, but this version is much more functional and, frankly, looks better. Obviously, I say this before the start of the test, but I think that should be applicable to all types of circuits; it does not have a few different oval or circuit. I would have been saved from that concussion in 2014”.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “This seems so right. How hard it will be to make sure that there is not much transition between looking through the shield or not in places like Iowa, Texas or even Pocono, where there is a cant high. I think that the way will be well, because it is used by fighter aircraft, and do not have a lot of distortion. IndyCar should go this way, it is the best for us, because it is still a car discovered, with better aerodynamics. The other idea I like is that a windshield and gives you the option of having a projected screen, which would be extremely cool”.
MAX CHILTON: “In terms of what I saw, I liked. Not going to save all, as the accident of Newgarden last year in Texas, but will reduce the peligroos on which you have less control, or those who can’t preever, as the accident of Henry Surtees. By deflecting debris that go direct to the head, and that is what really matters. We will wait to see what he says those who try, because we don’t want that to affect too much our view, but if someone says that it affects 5%, but it improves the security a lot more, is the way to go, isn’t it? I think that will help the technology to keep the glass clean, to make it more water-repellent and others. It is the best solution I have seen for a car”.