Yesterday Indycar introduced a new safety device which will debut at the Indianapolis 500. It is a small deflector in front of the cockpit between the rearview mirrors. The device, called the Advanced Frontal Protection Device (AFP), is supposed to deflect low flying small debris. The three inch high, 0.75 inch wide titanium piece is built b Dallara. The windscreen still needs more development, which is continuing. It might surprise you, but probably doesn’t , that I have some thoughts about this device.
In fairness, the AFP has not appeared out of the blue. It has bee discussed and studied for a few years. I’m positive the series would not put something on the car that has not been researched.
First, I have to trust Jay Frye and his team on this one. The never ending quest to make the cars safer is always at the front of his mind. I applaud his effort to implement some sort of safety deflector as an alternative to the windscreen. The screen had some issues. It added heat to the cockpits. Drivers who tested it complained of distortion and limited vision. I like that they are still working on it. The AFP does not appear to affect the driver’s sightline.
“Safety is a never-ending pursuit, and this is INDYCAR’s latest step in the evolution,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “There are more details to come about the phases to follow.”
I’m glad that the NTT Indycar Seeries is not proceeding with the windscreen because they don’t feel it is ready.
My concern is the AFP appears to be limited in what it can prevent from entering the cockpit and striking the driver. I’m not an engineer, but it appears that debris must come at a specific angle on a low trajectory for it to be effective. The device seems designed to stop smaller objects.
Before commenting further, I would like to see a view of this from the front of the car.
I hope this is a stopgap feature leading to the windscreen. The AFP looks like it is a transitional device which will give way to a more comprehensive cockpit protector.
While the 500 will be the first race for the cars to use the AFP, it will be on all cars for the April 24 test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Like many safety devices, I hope it is never tested in a race. Sadly, needing it is the only to know if it works as intended.
A close-up of the deflector highlighted in green:
Image by Indycar
Again, I need to see this in person and learn more about what it is designed to do before I pass a definite judgment.
You can read the complete release at Indycar.com