Groundhog Day: Animal wanders onto track at Canadian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid. Canadian Formula One 1 Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada - 07 Jun 2015. Dunbar/LAT/REX Shutterstock

MONTREAL — A groundhog that scampered onto the track during the Canadian Grand Prix showed the quickness of a Formula One driver when it scurried to safety and avoided the oncoming racecars.

The rodent had wandered onto the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve when Felipe Massa came bearing down with two other cars in pursuit. Massa swerved to avoid it, and the scared animal retreated back under the fence.

READ MORE: F1 leader Lewis Hamilton easily wins Canadian Grand Prix

“In this country, you have such beautiful wildlife,” Formula One spokesman Matteo Bonciani told The Associated Press. “I’m so happy that, in the end, it was all right.”

The open-wheeled cars hit a top speed of 212 mph (342 kph) in Sunday’s race, which was won by Lewis Hamilton.

Massa said it’s always surprising when an animal appears on the track, though it is not unprecedented. Dogs have wandered into races in India and Brazil and a groundhog also appeared during the 2008 Canadian GP.

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Massa had enough time to react, but worried that the two cars trailing him wouldn’t see the groundhog.

“It’s dangerous more for the animal than for me,” the Brazilian said. “But if we hit it it’s not good for our car, either.”

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