IndyCar drivers searching for ways to beat the heat with new aeroscreen

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IndyCar drivers will be getting some needed relief from aeroscreen-induced heat this weekend at Road America with a cooler forecast and a smarter approach to the cockpit layout after a grueling race last Saturday.

Conor Daly tweeted that he lost 12 pounds during the oppressive heat on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Though temperatures were in the 90s, the new aeroscreen that essentially encloses the cockpit also severely reduced airflow.

The weather was as hot in the June 6 opener at Texas Motor Speedway, but the stifling conditions inside the car become magnified on a road course with several low-speed corners vs. constantly whipping around an oval at 200-plus mph.

NTT IndyCar Series officials have been working with drivers and teams to improve cooling, adding another air duct and repositioning their drink bottles away from radiators to keep liquids cooler.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE: When cars will be on track

SATURDAY’S TV INFO: How to watch the race Saturday

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Road America

“I think it’s going to be huge,” Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward said during a team media availability Friday. “I think more than anything when you’ve got guys who have been in the series for a while saying that’s the hottest ever race they’ve done in an Indy car, there’s nothing but to believe them.

“As much as we work out as we can get fit and be prepared, we need oxygen to get into the muscles to feel good at the end of the race. I think it’s going to be huge having nice cold water for once. Because before then, it was hotter than tea. Steaming hot. The only reason you’d do it was to get some fluid in you because you lose so much during the race.”

The forecast for Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, should help: When the green flag falls on the first race of a weekend doubleheader Saturday, temperatures are expected to be in the low 80s.

Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Rinus VeeKay said Road America, which is 1.5 miles longer than the IMS road course but with the same number of turns, also should provide more airflow because of its longer straightaways, but he also would like another hose to provide venting through his helmet.

“We have been able to give the water bottle a different location so it gets a little bit more airflow and stays colder,” VeeKay said. “I think that will help. Of course, you need to hydrate as good as possible. It’s going to be hot in the car anyway. I think it’s never going to be perfect.”

Simon Pagenaud said he lost 8 and a half pounds during the GMR Grand Prix. With back to back doubleheader race weekends at Road America and Iowa Speedway, the Team Penske driver believes fitness will be a priority for the field.

“I’m on my way to recovery, but it is definitely the life of an athlete,”  Pagenaud said. “I just want to make sure going into Road America I want to present fully hydrated and full strength.  I’m excited because I’ve worked really hard for this and its paying off.

“We are in the early stages of the aeroscreen. I have been one of the ones preaching this and in favor of the aeroscreen because it adds safety. We are pioneers in safety. We are the first to go forward with this type of device. Unfortunately it was too hot in the last race. But IndyCar is already looking at adjustments to try and help the drivers with cooling, venting and drink bottles placement and size. They know what to do.  We knew there would be some kinks along the way in the early stages certainly. I think we will be OK.”

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta said Daly’s loss in water weight was “insane but it’s just your water weight.” Herta expected many drivers would be taking IVs after the first race at Road America and Iowa and perhaps after the second race, too.

“The only way you can really recover is just by getting fluids,” said Herta, who added teams are “constantly working on it. I would say nothing major has happened in the last week. They obviously know what the problem is now. They’re looking for solutions to fix it. I don’t think it’s something that you’re going to fix in a week. Hopefully throughout the season we can find some stuff to make it better.”

Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew said IndyCar had been very receptive to drivers’ opinions.

“Honestly, I think this issue has gone on far too long, especially now with the aeroscreen, it’s become more of an issue because our bodies are much hotter inside the car,” Askew said. “We’re not sure if the new (bottle) placement is going to work, but we hope so. Luckily this weekend, it won’t be as hot, but I think we can expect Iowa next weekend to be just as bad as the IMS GP.

“It’s been a big test for us. You can also take into account that none of us have been in a car. We’re not race fit at the moment. Hopefully as the season goes on, we’ll have less and less issues.”

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
Laurent Charniaux/Pool via Getty Images
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.