This offseason, NTT IndyCar Series officials are working to solve the visibility issue that is caused when rain pools on the front of the car’s Aeroscreen.
According to an extensive report by RACER, an in-depth project has been underway to understand the causes of the pooling problem before the start of next season.
Visibility during rainy weather has been a concern since the Aeroscreen was introduced in 2020, but there have been precious few race weekends held during adverse weather to really put visibility to the test.
In most situations that drivers encountered over the past few years, small amounts of rain was quickly whisked away by the wind blowing past the car. This led to drivers maintaining good visibility while they sped down the track.
But when heavier rain was encountered, as it was during this past May’s GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course, the water did not clear away nearly as well.
Conor Daly was one of a few drivers that noted that there was a pool of water that built up in the center of his vision, which did not clear away enough to give him a clear view of the track ahead.
He was forced to look out the sides of his cockpit for reference points, and relied on his spotter to warn him of dangers as he navigated towards each corner.
Since then, IndyCar has been researching the cause of the pooling water, and has been looking into possible solutions to implement during this offseason.
Solutions such as windscreen wipers were verified to be unusable given the unique shape and requirements of the Aeroscreen. But close analysis of CFD data showed that an area of slow-moving air in the center of the screen was the cause of the issue.
A total of 22 different proposed solutions were run through the computers to see which would significantly improve the air speed in the critical area, with a couple proving to be the most impactful.
The most promising solution appears to be a pair of curved vanes added to the front shock cover, which resides approximately 12 inches in front of the leading edge of the Aeroscreen.
At least in virtual testing, the small additions have doubled the air speed in the critical area of the screen, which should help immensely to clear away any built-up water. The aerodynamic impact appears to be minor as well, showing a 14-pound reduction in overall downforce.
In a discussion with RACER, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development Tino Belli described what the next steps of the evaluation look like. “At the end of this process, you’ll see that we are trying to see if we can actually take this to a wind tunnel with water.
“That’s a completely new phenomenon. So lots and lots of configurations we’ve gone through to get close to what could be the answer, and now we’re starting to narrow it down.
“The next step is to try and find a wind tunnel where we put a camera inside the cockpit and take a driver with us for the test and spray water at high speed at the car. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because nobody’s ever really done this with an IndyCar fitted with a screen.
“We’ve got to massively credit Dallara for taking the lead on this and putting in an extensive amount of time and resources to get us to where we are right now. And Honda, which has been increasingly supportive of the project.
“Many months have gone into creating the 22 configurations and both Dallara and Honda deserve the lion’s share of credit for advancing this towards a solution.”
It’s expected that final decisions on the updated pieces could be made before the end of the calendar year, including deciding if the the new vanes should be required for every round or only when adverse weather threatens.
IndyCar’s chassis manufacturer Dallara would then produce the new parts and make them available for teams ahead of the 2023 season, which begins on the streets of St. Petersburg on March 3-5.