By: Tanner Watkins
February 20, 2019 | 8:00 AM
Following Tuesday’s announcement of a new INDYCAR safety feature, drivers across the NTT IndyCar Series paddock weighed in with their opinions on what is largely considered a first step towards more definitive safety measures.
The debris deflection piece, titled Advanced Frontal Protection (AFP), is a titanium upright created by Dallara which will be mounted on the top of the current-generation IndyCar chassis. At just over three inches high and 0.75 inches in thickness, the center-mounted plate is designed to deflect debris entering the cockpit area.
As the afternoon wore on and news of the introduced piece began to spread, drivers across the series added their thoughts on the plate – which will be mandated for all races in 2019 beginning with the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
“Proud to be associated with IndyCar, and seeing them take action,” said Graham Rahal. “While this isn’t the ‘end game’ it’s progress and will help lead us to the right final decision on this critical driver safety enhancement. Lots of hours have been poured into this, no doubt!!”
In addition to Rahal’s comments, fellow series veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay stated that the introduced piece was the “next step in cockpit protection. More to come.
“Thank you IndyCar for always progressing driver safety,” added the 38-year-old Hunter-Reay. “Next step will be far more significant.”
Fans and teams will see the full field of NTT IndyCar Series drivers running AFP for the first time at the April 24 open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In between the April 24 test and opening practice of the Indianapolis 500, the protection piece will not be mandated for the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course.
The introduction of Dallara’s fin-shaped deflection device comes after two public on-track test sessions of the windscreen prototype in 2018. At ISM Raceway in February of that year, Scott Dixon gave positive reviews of the windscreen while Josef Newgarden also posted upbeat comments following a spring test at IMS.
Unfortunately, the windscreen prototype failed further testing at PPG’s facility in Huntsville, Alabama and has since gone back to the drawing board. A halo device was also considered but the current Dallara bodywork will not accommodate the halo.
While the fin-like device announced this week received a mixed bag of feedback from IndyCar Series fans, the drivers seem to be on the same page: progress is being made, and this is just the first step towards a larger solution.
“Such a great start,” said Carlin driver Charlie Kimball. “Gives me so much confidence with the future iterations. I’m always so proud of IndyCar’s commitment to driver safety.”
Header image by Stephen King/INDYCAR.