Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud agree the introduction of the aeroscreen has made IndyCar a ‘different animal’.
The aeroscreen was introduced for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series in conjunction with Red Bull Advanced Technologies in order to provide drivers with additional head protection.
With the increased protection has also come an increase in weight of approximately 60lbs (27.2kgs) and a shift in the centre of gravity for the car. These changes have meant the handling characteristics of the car have altered significantly as well.
Despite some drivers being able to test the device at the end of 2019, this past weekend’s one-day event at Texas Motor Speedway meant a baptism of fire many of the drivers on the grid.
“[It’s a] very different animal to drive,” said Newgarden. “Mechanically you had to work with it a lot.
“I think at least from our side it was a little bit of everything. Limited track time obviously with practice. Felt like we got a certain read on where we were. But you’re seeing a very large mechanical shift with the car, high CoG, high weight, dramatically different weight distribution.
“With that, I think you get tyre temperature shifts by yourself and in traffic. It’s really about how you’re working the tyres. I think that’s where we struggled personally on the No. 1 car. We were not in the right operating range.
“I struggled with tyres mightily right from the beginning of each stint. That’s all part of the game.”
Pagenaud agreed with his Penske team-mate, explaining the difficulty of limited track-running on the 1.5-mile oval and in using a different set-up compared to last year.
“On our No.22 car, we took a different approach,” said the Frenchman.
“We decided to restart with what we had last year because there were too many unknowns. Just like Josef explained, the car has changed a lot technically.
“The tyres obviously seeing a very different effort, I would say. Obviously, the degradation factor was different than what we expected.
“When you only have an hour and a half of testing, you only have time for three changes, quick fix, but it’s not like you can reinvent the wheel and go into qualifying and race with something you haven’t even tested on track.”