The biggest change for the NTT IndyCar Series in 2020 is mounted atop the cockpit as the new aeroscreen from Red Bull Advanced Technologies has brought driver protection to great heights.

Beyond the adjustments IndyCar’s drivers have made with racing behind a ballistic laminate created by PPG and a titanium halo supplied by Pankl, the race engineers associated with each entry have also faced new challenges to overcome.

Namely, it’s in tuning the 20-plus cars set to race at each round to deliver the handling characteristics needed by their drivers, and the outright speed that enables winning. Chief among the performance problems to solve is the newfound weight bolted up high on the front half of the cars. At approximately 60 pounds, the aeroscreen is not light or flimsy; keeping a flying car at bay requires a solid design.

The weight is a necessary evil in that regard; in exchange for the improved safety it offers, most race engineers have begrudgingly accepted the drawbacks in physics where the aeroscreen is akin to asking a runner to carry 30-pound dog food bags over each shoulder and asking them to sprint, stop, sprint again and make hard cuts left and right without tipping over.

On the surface, adding 60 pounds to an Indy car that hits the scales in the 1700-pound range sounds insignificant, but with its highly precise aerodynamic and mechanical tuning in mind, the heft and its pendulum-like influence on the racetrack has taken IndyCar’s finest engineering minds back to news starting points.

Alexander Rossi tests Andretti Autosport’s answers to the aeroscreen engineering challenge during February testing at Circuit of The Americas. Image by Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

“The tradeoff is the car has more drag and less downforce than before; the less downforce is obviously the biggest handling difference,” Alexander Rossi’s engineer Jeremy Milless told RACER. “The weight distribution also moves 0.8 percent forward. About the maximum we can adjust on the car to move weight distribution is half of that, 0.4 percent. Even if we do all of the weight distribution changes we’re allowed, we only get halfway back last year. And the center of gravity is 27 millimeters higher.

“It’s pretty big. It’s almost as big of a change as going to a new car. When IndyCar went from the Dallara IR3 to the DW12, one of the big changes they made was with the weight distribution; it was 1.2 percent, and that was a massive change. We’ve got a change close to that number again with the aeroscreen coming in, so engineers have their work cut out for them.”

Mike Colliver, who rejoined A.J. Foyt Racing to engineer the No. 14 Chevy shared by the trio of Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais, and Dalton Kellett, walked through the

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By: Marshall Pruett
Title: INSIGHT: Engineering the aeroscreen
Sourced From:
Published Date: Sat, 06 Jun 2020 13:20:04 +0000




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