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Max Verstappen Dodges Groundhog Drama to Clinch Victory at Chaotic Canadian Grand Prix



"Max Verstappen narrowly avoided hitting a groundhog during his journey to win a turbulent Canadian Grand Prix, describing the animal as being 'almost dead'."

Max Verstappen disclosed that he narrowly avoided hitting a groundhog while racing to win the F1 Canadian Grand Prix.

The well-known groundhogs residing on the island that hosts the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal often cause issues when Formula 1 arrives. Over the years, numerous groundhogs have had encounters with the racing cars.

In 2018, Romain Grosjean, who used to race for Haas, struck a groundhog, and in 2022, former Williams driver Nicholas Latifi unintentionally drove over one.

During the second practice session on Friday, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton almost collided with a woodchuck, and on lap 32 of the grand prix on Sunday, current world champion Verstappen reported a similarly close encounter.

During the press conference after the race, Verstappen remarked, "He was on the brink of death. As I was approaching the final chicane, I initially assumed it was just some debris."

"I began to get closer and then suddenly realized it was an animal. So, at the very last second, I turned sharply to avoid it. I have no idea what occurred after that."

George Russell, a Mercedes driver who secured third place, chimed in, "I witnessed it. He went off track."

Verstappen responded, "He went off the track. That's fortunate, because it could have been bad if it hit your vehicle."

In response, Russell quipped, “I was pleased since I managed to close the gap by a few tenths.”

This wasn't Verstappen's initial encounter with wildlife in Montreal.

At the Canadian Grand Prix last year, a bird collided with his Red Bull car and became lodged in the brake duct.

Verstappen mentioned that he needed to reduce his speed since he was slightly off the optimal racing line.

“After a bird flew into my car last year, I certainly didn’t want a groundhog trapped in there too.”

Verstappen secured his sixth victory of the season in a challenging and chaotic race on Sunday marked by rain.

“It feels incredibly fulfilling,” Verstappen stated. “I must say, this race is never straightforward. Mistakes can happen quite easily, particularly when using intermediate tires that were nearly worn down to slicks."

"Navigating the track was quite challenging because, although it was drying out in several areas, some corners remained too wet for slick tires. This mix of conditions made the situation extremely tough."

"It's really enjoyable to participate in these types of races occasionally. Doing it all the time would be too stressful, but I had a great time today."

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