Groundhog day in Montreal! Carlos Sainz forced to take evasive action to dodge rodent in practice

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Groundhog day in Montreal! Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon are forced to take evasive action in practice as track-invading rodents continue to put Canadian Grand Prix at risk

  • A groundhog ran on to the track during practice one of the Canadian Grand Prix
  • Esteban Ocon decelerated before Carlos Sainz was forced to take evasive action
  • The rodent nearly hit the rear right wheel of Sainz’s Ferrari but escaped narrowly 
  • Track-invading animals are a regular occurrence in Montreal on race weekends

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz was forced to take evasive action to avoid a groundhog running on to the track at the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday.

During the first practice session ahead of Sunday’s race, the animal invaded the track between turns two and three and nearly collided caused a major incident.

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Catching sight of the rodent first, Esteban Ocon slowed his Alpine as the groundhog trotted leisurely on to the track.

Esteban Ocon was forced to slow down in his Alpine when a groundhog ran on to the track

The rodent continued to charge towards the other side risking a collision with Carlos Sainz

The rodent continued to charge towards the other side risking a collision with Carlos Sainz

The Ferrari driver saw the groundhog late but managed to swerve at high speed and dodge it

The Ferrari driver saw the groundhog late but managed to swerve at high speed and dodge it

Williams' Alex Albon also had to take evasive action as the animal neared its own finish line

Williams’ Alex Albon also had to take evasive action as the animal neared its own finish line

The drivers finished the first practice session as the groundhog took refuge in the grass

The drivers finished the first practice session as the groundhog took refuge in the grass

  But the animal quickly picked up the pace as Sainz and Williams driver Alex Albon roared past turn two.

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Sainz, who has experienced an unfortunate start to the season with three race retirements already, only spotted the track-invader at the last second but managed to avoid a messy encounter.

As the groundhog neared his rear right wheel, the Spaniard hugged the white line in search of extra room and helped the little creature escape unscathed.

Sainz sits fifth in the championship on 83 points two spots behind team-mate Charles Leclerc

Sainz sits fifth in the championship on 83 points two spots behind team-mate Charles Leclerc

Albon followed behind the Ferrari and also had to adjust his line before the groundhog safely made its way to the grass on the other side of the track.

Groundhog appearances have become common during race weekends at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit on Montreal’s Isle Notre Dame.

A groundhog nearly collided with Felipe Massa during the 2015 race, Lewis Hamilton noticed one scampering by turn two in 2017, and Kimi Raikkonen informed his team of a groundhog incident over the radio in 2019.

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Former Haas driver Romain Grosjean also damaged the front of his car in 2018 after hitting one in practice. 

‘It was a big impact. It was a big animal,’ the French driver said at the time.

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