MEXICO CITY — Indycar has ruled out using a head protection device similar to Formula One's halo, but a protective screen could yet be introduced some time next season, according to series chief executive Mark Miles.
"It could be next year. It's not going to be in March, but it could be during the season," he told reporters at the weekend's U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas — a double-header with Sunday's Mexican F1 race.
The 2018 Indy car was presented at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July without any device in place. However a prototype screen is being developed and could be tested on track before the end of the year.
"We think greater head protection is important. We're working on it. It won't be a halo, it will be some form of a windscreen," said Miles.
"We're making real progress on something that won't really alter the look of our car. Drivers will be able to see through it, over it.
"Forget what each of us may think about it aesthetically or otherwise, it's pretty clear that since we're on ovals and they're banked, the driver couldn't see up through it (the halo). You've got to be able to see up," added Miles.
Formula One is due to introduce its halo cockpit protection system from next season after also testing transparent shield concepts. Unlike IndyCar, Formula One does not race on oval circuits.
The "halo," which is fixed at three points including a central pillar in front of the driver that supports a protective loop above his head, has been criticized by some fans and drivers for its looks.
It will also be used in Formula Two next year and other FIA-sanctioned junior series at later dates.
The push for increased head protection has gathered urgency following the deaths in 2015 of British Indy Car driver Justin Wilson and French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi.
Wilson died after being hit on the head by debris from another car while competing at Pennsylvania's Pocono Raceway, while Bianchi suffered severe head injuries in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix when his car hit a recovery tractor.
IndyCar's showcase race is the Indianapolis 500 in May.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin