In an otherwise largely pointless day of chilly temperatures (no higher than 48degF), regular rain showers, misty atmosphere and constant dampness at Circuit of The Americas, few drivers turned two consecutive laps, choosing instead to run out-and-in laps.
But Power ran a couple of laps around the Austin, TX track as ‘wingman’ for Supercars ace McLaughlin, who will race the fourth Penske entry in May’s GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and at times got extremely close to the rear of the New Zealander’s car in order to check visibility through the aeroscreen in the wet.
He told reporters: “Actually, I really wish someone ran in the wet-wet so we could know where all the water gets in. We already saw areas where the water was getting in. Seems like it needs a lip around the top because water drips in as you drive. Water got in underneath the screen and also dripped in from the top.
“The aeroscreen is great – the rain just clears, and there was no fogging. But the rain does drip in on your steering wheel and on your visor.
“It would be an easy fix with just a little lip [on top of the screen frame].”
Asked if the water at the bottom of the screen was coming through the NACA ducts designed for cockpit cooling, Power said: “Nah, I don’t think it was coming from the vents. I think it was just where the screen was sealed [to the bulkhead].”
Power and Arrow McLaren SP’s new signing Patricio O’Ward both praised the screen for working so well as an add-on to an existing chassis, rather than being fully integrated into the original design. Although O’Ward struggled with cockpit ventilation last November in his initial test with the aeroscreen, he and Power agreed that visibility through the screen was very good.
“You don’t even recognize there’s a screen there,” said Power. “You’re focused way up there, not what’s right here,” he said, indicating near his face.
“Yeah,” said O’Ward. “The screen eliminates some of the view you have at the near sides [low, where the screen attaches to the cockpit], but anywhere in front and around where you normally can see, there’s nothing different at all, which to me is impressive.
"You would think that with what is basically bullet-proof glass, you would lose some of the picture or get distortion, but not at all… You can see your mirrors, you can see beside you.
“Basically, everything you have to see is perfectly clear.”