The NTT IndyCar Series is on track to introduce an updated version of its Aeroscreen cockpit protection device in time for the 2024 season.
According to a report from RACER, the new Aeroscreen will provide the same protection as the current iteration and will keep the same size and shape, but will weigh significantly less.
The current safety package comes in at just over 50 pounds, including the titanium halo and polycarbonate screen. The new version is expected to weigh roughly 17 pounds less, helping to alleviate some of the problems associated with the high center-of-gravity safety device.
Introduced in 2020, the Aeroscreen also added significant weight to the front half of the car and changed the balance of the Dallara IR18 chassis considerably.
Drivers noted that the car demanded a different driving style with the addition, but have since agreed that the balance of the car overall is much better once they got used to the changes.
Talking with RACER, IndyCar President Jay Frye talked about the status of the previously unannounced upgrade.
“When Red Bull developed the first version of the one that we’re currently running, the Phase two version was already in the works,” said Frye. “This was part of the plan.
“It’ll look the same externally, and internally, the Pankl piece will be made from a honeycomb-type configuration that will reduce the weight by up to 50-percent of what it currently is. They do a fabulous job. The technology’s amazing.
“And PPG, they’re also fantastic, and I would say we’re probably looking at 20-percent less [weight on the screen]. This will be a worthwhile exercise.
“It’s done everything that we thought it would do and then some, and now going forward we have the opportunity to lighten it up, which will help the overall weight of the car, which is good.”
If the new Aeroscreen does debut in 2024 as planned, it will line up with the introduction of IndyCar’s oft-delayed hybrid powertrains.
This generational leap in engine technology is expected to add nearly 150 pounds to the car, and with a new chassis not planned for some time, any weight savings elsewhere will help to mitigate the growing weight problem the series is facing.
Since the Aeroscreen’s introduction two years ago, it has helped to protect drivers in multiple documented incidents. Rinus VeeKay and Callum Ilott have each avoided likely injury when pieces of debris were deflected away from their helmets.