In the first test for IndyCar’s Aeroscreen in a wet race, visibility issues were a concern for some drivers around the 2.44-mile Indianapolis road course.
Conor Daly in particular described how the water pooled on the front of his screen and forced him to look out the side in order to see what was in front of him.
He described the situation as concerning, but was confident that the series would look into solutions now that they have an race-long example to work from.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Daly after the race. “It was like the water just stayed in the center of the screen, and I don’t know why. Even as you went faster, which you would hope it would clear, it didn’t.
“Obviously, this is very much a scientific test run. We have a lot of data to go through with the series, and I’m sure [IndyCar president] Jay Frye will look at it as well.
“It was challenging. Thankfully, we had a great spotter in Packy Wheeler, who was literally guiding me into turn one.
“I couldn’t see the brake zone or the cars in front of me or the end of the pit wall, but I could look out the side of the Aeroscreen, so I was looking right and left to go straight, which was neat.
“It was definitely hard to race like that because you don’t want to, obviously, end up on the wrong side. Even under yellow. I couldn’t see the cars in front of me under yellow. I had to be guided into pit lane, and that’s concerning.
“Hopefully we can figure that out, but hopefully we also have very shiny weather for the rest of the year.”
Other drivers were asked about the issue, and most pointed to the spray in the air being the main problem rather than water pooling on the Aeroscreen.
The spray issue is a product of high-downforce cars running at high speeds, and is a consistent problem in certain track conditions for all types of racing series.
Dirt and drying water were referenced as additional pain points, though, which dirtied up the screen and could only be cleared via tearoff during a pit stop.
Simon Pagenaud suggested that a windscreen wiper could help with that particular problem, if one could be designed to work with the Aeroscreen’s unique shape.
There were a few incidents of drivers seemingly not able to react to an unexpected situation in front of them, but for the most part they all navigated the tricky visibility well. The low grip levels of the tarmac caused many more problems throughout the afternoon.