IndyCar drivers continued praise for aeroscreen but insist work still needed to be done to better the experience amid trials to improve things.
Occasionally, a fan facing outward, thereby sucking hot air out of a room can be just as – if not more – effective at cooling as an inward facing fan. And, while the laws of room ventilation may sound like a strange place to start an IndyCar article, this is surprisingly relevant to the American series, and specifically, its aeroscreen.
With complaints about cooling coming from drivers in the early stages of the device’s implementation – and as far back as its testing at IMS – IndyCar have worked on several solutions, including vents in the nose cone and at the base of the screen. And, most recently, a scoop situated atop the screen was added.
The aforementioned scoop was trialed throughout the course of the Iowa weekend, and, while many drivers reported better air flow, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden expressed some concerns, one of which was that air is not being adequately pulled out of the cockpit – a crucial element of ventilation within the cockpit, just as it can often be with rooms in day-to-day life.
“Look, at the end of the day, how do we judge the Aeroscreen? First off, they’ve honestly done an amazing job,” said Newgarden. “The series has knocked it out of the park for pretty much most areas with this Aeroscreen. Are there some things that we still need to be better at, like airflow, pulling debris and air out of it, like the sand that you spoke about, especially on a gritty track like Iowa?
“Sure, we still have areas to improve. I think IndyCar is listening, trying to do as much as they can in the pandemic situation. It’s been a tough year to make progress on anything I think anywhere in the world. But they’ve done a very good job. This Aeroscreen is very good. It’s very, very close to being perfect all around. The airflow quality has been a little lacking. We’ve made it a little bit better with every step.
“We still have a little bit more to go. There’s some grit that still comes inside the car, which is kind of the nature of an IndyCar. We spew a lot of sand. We blast it up from the car. We’re swirling a lot of air on the track with the way these cars are designed. These things that need to be improved slightly, I think we’re going to get there. Overall I think I want to say that IndyCar has done a great job with the screen,” he summed up.
Elaborating on some of his gripes, Newgarden said the following, as he reiterated that these flaws are not deal-breaking: “I think they need to do some different things. Look, Road America, no issues for me. Absolutely zero issues. Texas, zero issues. The Indy GP, it’s too hot. I think some of the issues they’re running into is we’ve been trying to force air in, but we’re not getting air out.
“I think the main issue now is trying to extract air from the cockpit. Is it a terrible environment? No, it’s not a terrible environment. Is it ideal? It’s not ideal. Just kind of in the middle right now of quality as far as the airflow. The reason I went through that is because it depends on the track and it depends on the temperature outside.
“If it’s a cooler day like at Road America, it’s a long straightaway, you don’t pick up as much grit from the racetrack like you do here at Iowa, there’s not any big problems. I don’t think anyone had major issues at Road America. It’s on days like the GP of IndyCar where it’s 95, 98 degrees out, it’s too hot, you’re not getting enough airflow in at that point.
“I think what we’re going to find here it’s not getting more air into the car, it’s more pulling air out of it. Yeah, there’s still things that need to be better. I think that’s what we need to work on. I wasn’t a big fan of the scoop. I didn’t think that was a positive. But that’s also okay. We test things like that to see if it is a positive or not. My opinion is it wasn’t the right direction. I think we need to do something different,” summed up Newgarden, whose Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud had a difference in opinion.
The Frenchman praised the scoop and the efforts of IndyCar, who have been working tirelessly to find a solution for this particular issue. “Personally I thought this was an added layer of airflow into the cockpit. I thought it was great handling as long as everybody runs it. Obviously as long as everybody runs it, you’re not going to feel something different. It’s my opinion the more air, the better.
“Obviously tonight was not too hot, so you’re not supposed to be hot in the race car. It’s under yellow that it gets actually the hottest, but if it was during the day, it would have been tougher. However, it’s an improvement, and IndyCar is really on it.”
CGR’s Scott Dixon didn’t find the scoop to be a necessity at Iowa, as he complained of excessive grit entering the cockpit – something that he did, however, note could be affected by driver seating positions, and other factors. Like his peers, he also praised the work of IndyCar.
“I think it was good at sort of putting a bunch of sand in the car,” said Dixon. “I don’t know, I’ve never been so dirty in my life. Yeah, we never really tried to take it off. I think only Felix maybe did and he thought there was a little more air, but I think any additional stuff, it’s not really needed at places like here, but IndyCar are doing one hell of a job to try and fix things on the run, which even to produce these things and make them in the fashion and the time frame that they’re doing, they’re doing a fantastic job.
“But I think it’s kind of driver opinions, where you sit and which bents that you have and things like that, but I didn’t think it was needed,” summed up Dixon, as Arrow McLaren SP’s Oliver Askew was of a similar opinion. He, too, applauded IndyCar.
“I kind of echo what Scott said. I don’t think I’ve ever been so dirty getting out of the car in my life, which means that it’s been moving some air into the cockpit. I haven’t done a back-to-back, so I can’t really say if it’s an improvement, but props to IndyCar car for making the effort for sure,” summed up Askew.
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