IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye says the fact that a cockpit aeroscreen is to be tested at Phoenix next month doesn’t necessarily mean it will be used in competition in 2018 – if at all.
IndyCar’s aeroscreen has already been extensively tested on a simulator, and as part of next month's two-day Open Test – or the rookie day that immediately precedes it – the screen will be tried on track for the first time at Phoenix International Raceway.
However, Frye says that IndyCar is not rushing toward a conclusion and it is not definite that the aeroscreen will get the green light.
He told Motorsport.com: “It’s still somewhat debatable whether it will definitely be used in the series or not, but it’s something we’re working towards. Then we all decide collectively whether we go forward with it or not or investigate a different solution.”
Regarding the date/venue of the aeroscreen’s competition introduction – should the teams and drivers agree to it – Frye said it was “too early to tell.”
He went on: “If we put it on and it wins universal approval, then who knows? Honestly, it’s a step-by-step process and I don’t want to speculate on the when/where/if it gets introduced until we can tell you something definite. We’re just working the process very methodically to find a good application. Then, if it checks all the boxes, we will start thinking in terms of cost, inventory, time-frame.
“The 2018 universal aerokit has been designed with a potential aeroscreen application in mind, so that side of it isn’t an issue. But it will still take time to retrofit aeroscreens to 24-26 cars. You’re at the mercy of others, you know? The vendor who builds the screen, the vendor who builds the pieces that attach the screen to the car, and Dallara themselves. Is there time to fit these screens during a busy season?”
Frye said the practicalities and logistics of the initial test were being verified this weekend.
“We’ve got the Rookie test day before the two Open Test days [9-10 February],” he said, “and we’ve got the Sunday if necessary… although we shouldn’t need to use that. We’re probably going to run a couple of hours out there – maybe one hour in daylight, one in the evening, because obviously we do both each season, and so we do need to get feedback on both.
“We’ll have it on at least one car at Phoenix. We’ve had a driver’s feedback in a simulator – Gabby Chaves has done good work for us there. But we still haven’t had feedback on track and that will be a big difference, and I also want it to be a veteran who runs it.”
Frye said that as well as testing how the aeroscreen affects a driver’s vision from the cockpit, IndyCar will also be verifying the device’s effect on the car.
“We will be collecting data from the car, both with and without the screen in place. Actually, that’s the one thing we’re still debating – adhering the screen in place. If the aeroscreen does become part of the cars, it will have a permanent fixture on the cars, but for the testing process, it won’t have that yet. It might be easier to put on and more difficult to take off.”