Rain poses new challenges to the air barrier in Indy GP

It took 35 races to get there, but the new 2020 IndyCar air fender was finally put through a proper wet-weather test. A few complaints were heard in light to medium rain, but when the skies opened wide in the closing stages of the two-hour Indy GP, serious visibility concerns emerged.

“I couldn’t see,” second-placed Simon Pagenaud said after chasing Colton Hertha at his home on Saturday. “I didn’t even know where it was, quite frankly. I marked a few spots on the fence to know where to do the braking, but it was very hard to see me without a mop. I mean, if we had a mop it would probably help, but that was my first Real racing with a windshield, so you have to give credit to IndyCar.

“Safety is amazing, but in these circumstances you would need a wiper like in a sports car. It is very similar to the windshield in a sports car. I am not at all negative – I am completely positive about it and what we can do to improve it. So we will find solutions and improve it and make sure that it is When we have rain races, we hope to have more, and then we don’t have those issues.”

Where Pagenaud used fences to select brake markers, sixth-placed driver Felix Rosenqvist closed the race off using flashing rain lights mounted on the rear of the cars as indicators of when to brake or turn.

“It’s like he’s getting a certain amount of water on it, it’s not going anywhere,” he told RACER. “It just stays and the only thing that makes you know where you’re going are the blinking lights in the back of the cars. Like, if you don’t have a car in front of you, you don’t know where to go.”

“I braked when I thought it was fine, but I went into Turn 1, and I’m like, ‘I’m just going to brake here,’ and I’ve gone through like five guys! It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper rain race. It’s always fun.”

Conor Daly’s fifth-place race featured similar experiences.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said. “It was like water staying in the middle of the screen, I don’t know why, but even as you went faster, which I hoped would turn out, it didn’t. This is obviously a pretty much a scientific test. We have a lot of data to go through in these. The series, and I’m sure Jay Fry will look at it too. He hates it when I talk about the air barrier, but I’m just describing what I saw, that’s it. It was tough.

“Luckily we had a great observer in the Packy Wheeler, who was literally guiding me into Turn 1. I couldn’t see the brake area, the cars ahead or the end of the pit wall, but I could look up to the side of the air fender, so I was looking right and left to get straight. And that was elegant.”

It may be difficult to add windshield wiper motors and wiper blades before the end of the season — if IndyCar is interested in following Pagenaud’s suggestion. Whatever the selection, series drivers want all the protection a windshield provides, but after experiencing major visibility issues in heavy rain, further development is needed to prevent the same outcome from happening again.

“It was definitely hard to race like that because, of course, you don’t want to end up on the wrong side,” Daly said, acknowledging the good fortune that prevented major accidents from blind driving. “Even under the yellow. I couldn’t see the cars in front of me under the yellow. I should have been instructed to the pit lane, which is troubling. Hopefully we can figure that out, but hopefully we’ll have very bright weather for the rest of the year.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: