Increasing safety in F1 is an ongoing endeavour for the sport to protect drivers travelling at more than 300km/h. The latest in a long line of improvements in an Aero Screen concept from Red Bull. The new Aero Screen concept will be debut by the team this weekend in Sochi by Australian Daniel Ricciardo, currently 3rd in the Championship.
You can see the thick screen protects the driver from any debrit from the front of the vehicle. When Felipe Massa was struck by what is believed to be a piece of spring from another car, back in 2009, it almost cost him his life. Since then discussions have been ongoing about how we can prevent that from ever happening again and how the sport can be made safer. At the Melbourne GP this year, Fernando Alonso crashed in spectacular form and issues were then raised about impacting the driver’s ability to escape the cockpit in the event of an accident and especially a rollover.
The Red Bull Racing solution looks to address both of these concerns, but it remains to be seen how they would deal with rain, as creating a windscreen wiper presents its own challenges, particularly one that has a circular sweep. If they were to use V8-style tear off’s on the screen, that may work, but what if the screen is damaged, is it easy to replace quickly mid-race. These are all difficult problems to solve and no perfect answer, but in a sport with millions of dollars and amazing talented people, this will make them earn their pay packets.
The Aero Screen from Red Bull is a response to concepts by other teams like Mercedes, but differs in a very important way. Red Bull decided to create a screen that is clear at the front and has structural support on the sides, much like the A pillars in your road car. This avoids the ‘halo’ concept obscuring the view of the driver.
Ferrari first showed off their version of the ‘halo’ concept at practice in the Spain round of the championship and Ricciardo will also use practice to trial the Red Bull solution. Until officially endorsed, teams can’t use these solutions in the race, but its important to test the solution at a real event, with close-to-race conditions. One of the biggest challenges in Motorsport technology is translating the theory of computer modelling to real world results. In simulations, its relatively easy for teams to test how the solution performs in a collision or when impacted by debris, but real world conditions are always best to confirm the solution is right.
Ultimately all teams will pay close attention to each possible solution that’s introduced to the solve problem, ahead of making a decision on the best to implement for the 2017 season.
More information at Red Bull Racing’s Facebook page.