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Verstappen’s Victory and a Groundhog’s Narrow Escape at the Chaotic Canadian Grand Prix

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"Max Verstappen recounts a close call with a groundhog during his tumultuous win at the Canadian Grand Prix, stating, 'I was nearly a goner.'"

Max Verstappen disclosed that he narrowly avoided a collision with a groundhog while securing his win at the F1 Canadian Grand Prix.

Montreal's well-known groundhogs, residing on the island that hosts the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, often become a nuisance during the F1 season. Over the years, there have been numerous incidents involving these animals and the racing cars.

In 2018, ex-Haas competitor Romain Grosjean collided with a groundhog, and former Williams driver Nicholas Latifi inadvertently struck one in 2022.

Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton had a narrow escape from a woodchuck during the second free practice session on Friday, while the current world champion, Verstappen, revealed that he also experienced a near-miss with the animal on the 32nd lap of Sunday's race.

"Verstappen mentioned in the post-race press conference, "He was practically on the brink of death." When I was approaching the final chicane, at first, I believed it was just debris."

"As I began to approach, suddenly it dawned on me that it was a creature. So, indeed, I veered to the right just in time. I'm not sure what ensued following that."

Mercedes' George Russell, who secured a third-place finish, chimed in, stating: "I witnessed it. He veered off track."

Verstappen responded, "He took off. That's a relief. Thankfully, I mean, imagine if that had struck your vehicle…"

Russell humorously commented, "I was quite pleased since I managed to gain on you by a few tenths."

Verstappen's encounter with wildlife in Montreal wasn't his first.

In the previous year's Canadian Grand Prix, he collided with a bird that became lodged in the brake duct of his Red Bull.

"Verstappen mentioned he needed to reduce his speed since he was slightly away from the dry line."

"Obviously, a bird ended up inside my car last year. Therefore, the last thing I wanted was to also deal with a groundhog trapped in my vehicle."

Verstappen secured his sixth victory of the season in Sunday's challenging and chaotic race.

"Verstappen expressed satisfaction, stating, 'It feels incredibly fulfilling. Each race presents its own challenges. There's always a high risk of errors, particularly when using intermediate tires that are nearly worn down to slicks."

Indeed, navigating the course proved challenging as it was drying out in several sections, yet remained sufficiently damp in certain turns, making the switch to slick tyres somewhat premature. This complexity significantly heightened the difficulty of the race.

"Driving in these types of races occasionally is really enjoyable. Constantly racing like this would be overly taxing, but I genuinely had a great time today."

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