By: Tanner Watkins
April 26, 2019 | 3:00 PM
After passing baseline and sightline tests during this week’s practice sessions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series will mandate the use of the Advance Frontal Protection (AFP) device beginning with the INDYCAR Grand Prix. The device was initially scheduled to debut for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
Bolted onto the centerline of the Dallara IR-18 chassis, the AFP provides protection to the driver by deflecting flying debris away from the pilot’s head. Crafted from titanium, the device was tested in both oval and road course conditions this week and received positive reviews from drivers.
INDYCAR president Jay Frye was pleased enough with the device’s progress that the date for implementation was comfortably moved up to the May 11 INDYCAR Grand Prix, instead of the original target date of May 26 for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
“Thanks to a phenomenal effort by Dallara and all of the INDYCAR teams, we are ahead of schedule in making this happen,” Frye said.
Within a release explaining the implementation of the AFP, Frye mentioned that this device serves as “Phase 1 of our solution” to improve cockpit safety in IndyCar. More details are expected to be revealed during the month of May.
While the popular windscreen solution was unable to pass ballistics testing despite posting progress in on-track testing, the AFP passed the same load testing standards as the roll hoop above the driver’s head on the Dallara IR-18. One driver who will be pleased to see the AFP implemented will be James Hinchcliffe.
Hinchcliffe was involved in an accident back in 2014 at the Indianapolis Grand Prix where debris contacted his helmet. The force of the impact was enough to give the Canadian driver a concussion, and Hinchcliffe believes that the new protection fin would have prevented such an injury.
“It’s great to see that INDYCAR is always pushing safety,” Hinchcliffe said. “Obviously, this is just Step 1 in an evolution of head protection. But having been hit by a piece of debris that would’ve been prevented with this device, I’m all for it. It’s also comforting to know that behind the scenes we are still working hard on a more comprehensive solution.”
The sixth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix airs live at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, May 11 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. The 103rd Indianapolis 500 takes place Sunday, May 26 and airs live at 11 a.m. ET on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Header image by James Black/INDYCAR.