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Race-age Wildlife: When animals roamed the circuit

A compilation of all the times non-automotive wildlife has found its way onto the tracks in Formula 1.

The 2015 Canadian Grand Prix may have been lackluster in terms of driving, with little to no excitement this year. However, a furry friend visited the track during last night’s race to liven up proceedings. The groundhog, scrambling across the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, was in the path of Felipe Massa of Williams, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. 

Comfortably still in the middle of the track, the groundhog saw Massa’s Williams driving right towards it, scrambling for cover as both Massa and Grosjean turned inwards to avoid hitting it. Luckily for both Vettel and the groundhog, it found its way to safety in the grass and scampered away. 

Watch here:

It is not the first time an animal has been part of race proceedings, however:

Dog sets a lap time at the Buddh International Circuit:

Noida played host to India’s inaugural Grand Prix, held in 2011. While the country finally made their grand entry into the world of Formula One racing, this was to be short lived, with the contract cancelled in 2014. 

The first ever practice session held at the Buddh International Circuit had a special lap from a very special visitor. The black stray ran around the track, nearly in the path of Italian driver Adrian Sutil, then with Force India, as he exited the pit lane. Officials halted practice as officials got into a makeshift ‘safety car’, their Jeep, and chased it off the track. 

Here’s the dog in action:

What does the fox say? 

The fox lopes across the track as free practice goes on at Montreal in 2012

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve frequently sees animal visitors, many of them groundhogs. This time, however, it was a fox that wandered onto the track. At the 2012 Canadian Grand Prix, the first practice session saw a fox wander onto the track in Sector 1 at the Circuit, wandering around Turn 4 as it crossed the track near the exit and ensconced itself under a concrete wall. It was not alone, as Kimi Raikkonen encountered a squirrel at the chicane near turn 8. 

Beaver or be square

 Anthony Davidson, who won the 2014 World Endurance Championship title, was riding with Japanese team Super Aguri at the 2007 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in 2007 when he made contact with a beaver on the track. The Briton, who was poised for a podium finish, was forced into the pits to replace his front wing. He dropped into 11th place, deprived of the only opportunity he had to score points in Formula One racing. 

The beaver, sadly, perished, and took with it Davidson’s podium chances. 

Oh deer! 

An exact quote from the person involved in this incident. F1 driver, and 7-time winner in his 5 active years in Formula One, Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya was at the Austrian Grand Prix at the A1 track in 2001, his first year in the premier class of automobile racing, when a deer bolted across the track. Montoya, ever the funny man, made light of the moment, shouting “Oh, deer!” over the team radio.

Here’s that moment in all its hilarity (albeit mislabelled in the title):

This bird has flown

A 20-year-old Button making his F1 debut in 2000 for Williams-BMW

Jenson Button, then a 20-year-old driving making his Formula One debut with Williams, was testing for the firm at Kyalami near Johannesburg when he collided with a bird whilst doing 160mph in his vehicle. The bird, which collided with the airbox of the Williams-BMW, just above Button’s head, was sadly killed instantly. John Button, his father, suggested the damage would have been significantly worse, life-threatening for Jenson, if he did not sit as low in his vehicle as he did. 

The bird was a large one, with its legs measuring a long 7 inches. Button, thankfully, escaped unscathed, later laughing about the incident.

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