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

Groundhog Day in Montreal! Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon are forced to take evasive action in practice as rodents entering the track continue to endanger the Canadian Grand Prix

  • A groundhog ran onto the track during the first practice of the Canadian Grand Prix
  • Esteban Ocon slowed down before Carlos Sainz was forced to take evasive maneuvers
  • The rodent almost hit the right rear wheel of Sainz’s Ferrari, but narrowly escaped
  • Pioneering animals are a regular occurrence in Montreal on race weekends

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz had to swerve to prevent a groundhog from hitting the track during Friday’s Canadian Grand Prix.

During the first practice session prior to Sunday’s race, the animal entered the track between turns two and three and nearly collided, causing a major incident.

Esteban Ocon, first to spot the rodent, slowed down his Alpine as the marmot trotted calmly onto the track.

Esteban Ocon had to slow down in his Alpine when a groundhog ran onto the track

Esteban Ocon had to slow down in his Alpine when a groundhog ran onto the track

The rodent kept running to the other side and risked a collision with Carlos Sainz

The rodent kept running to the other side and risked a collision with Carlos Sainz

The Ferrari driver spotted the groundhog late, but managed to swerve and dodge at high speed

The Ferrari driver spotted the groundhog late, but managed to swerve and dodge at high speed

Williams' Alex Albon also had to swerve as the animal approached its own finish

Williams’ Alex Albon also had to swerve as the animal approached its own finish

The drivers finished the first practice session with the groundhog taking refuge in the grass

The drivers finished the first practice session with the groundhog taking refuge in the grass

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

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

As the marmot approached its right rear wheel, the Spaniard hugged the white line in search of extra space and helped the critter escape unscathed.

Sainz is fifth in the championship with 83 points, two spots behind teammate Charles Leclerc

Sainz is fifth in the championship with 83 points, two spots behind teammate Charles Leclerc

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

Groundhog performances have become common during race weekends at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit on the Isle Notre Dame in Montreal.

A groundhog nearly collided with Felipe Massa during the 2015 race, Lewis Hamilton saw a run away at turn two in 2017 and Kimi Raikkonen informed his team of a groundhog incident via radio in 2019.

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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