FIA was advised not to remove groundhogs – Whiting

2018 Canadian Grand Prix

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FIA race director Charlie Whiting has explained why the groundhog Romain Grosjean hit during practice was not removed from the track despite being spotted by television cameras before the incident.

Grosjean said he was “disappointed” the marshals did not remove the groundhog before he hit it. Whiting explained to drivers after practice why they hadn’t tried to catch it.

“We saw the groundhog. I did ask if it was feasible to try and catch him and I was told by those who know much more about groundhogs it was a very unwise thing to try and do.

“We felt that on balance it was better to leave it there and hope he didn’t make a dash for it but he did, unfortunately.”

Groundhogs, which are also known as marmots, can weigh up to six kilograms. The animal Grosjean struck caused significant damage to his Haas and broke one of the team’s new front wings.

“They are indigenous to this island, they’re protected, and they do their best to get places they’re not supposed to go,” said Whiting.

“We do our best to try and fill up all the holes but they just dig new ones and quite often get onto the track. It’s not nice but I think there’s very little we can actually do to eradicate it.”

Grosjean suffered a similar mishap during practice in Malaysia last year when he struck a loose drain cover and crashed, causing significant damage to his Haas.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “FIA was advised not to remove groundhogs – Whiting”

  1. Well lets design halos for the marmots then :)

    1. OMG! LOL!!! You just made my day. :)

    2. COTD ….

    3. I think the Marmot in question already has his!

  2. Marmots and flag-gate. It certainly was a weekend to remember!

  3. I say the onboard of the impact- it was pretty messy, and rather dangerous.
    Back home in Beggar’s Canyon we used to bullseye womp-rats, and they weren’t much bigger than that.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      12th June 2018, 7:40

      Yay Star Wars reference! I got that partly because ‘It’ll be like Beggars Canyon back home’ is my favourite line

  4. Cute poor thing.

  5. “They are indigenous to this island, they’re protected, and they do their best to get places they’re not supposed to go,” said Whiting.

    Not really clear if there are many animals “indigenous” to a Man-Made Island.
    The day will come when it becomes a safety issue of a car hitting one of these at 200 mph. Hang on a second ….. aren’t we already there.
    Having lived in Eastern Canada, I am not sure that the “Groundhog”, Marmota monax, is a protected animal. A quick search showed no limits or restrictions on hunting them. Look for the problem to be solved for next year.

    1. I was wondering same thing about the animals indigenous to a man-made island!
      And groundhogs/marmotes/woodchucks are one of the animals you can hunt with a Quebec small-game hunting license.

    2. I also very much doubt that marmots are a protected species. I don’t mean to denigrate groundhogs as a species, but they are numerous along highways and roads in the eastern USA, and they are active during the day.

  6. Grosjean suffered a similar mishap during practice in Malaysia last year

    Groundhog day ;)

    1. A friend of mine, Steve Phillips, was killed at Westwood, outside of Vancouver B.C., many years ago during a Formula Ford race; unsighted he drove under a deer as he crested Deer’s Leap on the back straight. After that a rifleman was stationed at the turn station with orders to shoot to kill. The track had deer fencing, but obviously it wasn’t high enough. I’d just pitted with engine problems when it happened. I don’t like loose animals around race cars.

  7. Honestly- why doesnt this living creature get a “Halo?”

    As stupid as a comment this is as stupid as the halo is.

    1. Here I was thinking that video from a recent F2 (I think it was F2) race pretty much confirmed that the halo has already prevented one serious injury or death. Must be my lying eyes. Call it unattractive. Call it overkill, if you must. But I don’t think calling it “stupid” stands up very well.

      1. so every time a halo gets a scuff we must assume its saved a life?? halo sucks and sorry agree to disagree but its stupid.

        just park the cars already racing is clearly too dangerous for humans and animals alike.

  8. We saw Hartley’s nose crash down on Stroll’s left front wheel last race.
    It could have crashed down on Lances head just the same. Without the HALO, I’d call this a narrow escape.

    1. (Was supposed to be a reply to @marksch and @gwbridge)

      1. lets just remember not a single driver in modern f1 has been killed by something the halo is designed to prevent.

        so i guess every accident going forward its going to be heralded as a miracle?

        just wait till that stupid thing backfires and traps a driver.. its gonna happen…

        1. Apart from Maria de Villota.

          *Possibly* would have at least deflected Massa’s spring as well which could easily have killed him.

          Justin Wilson would have been saved by it: and we see that sort of incident all the time in F1, its just a different series.

          1. @mattb

            Apart from Maria de Villota.

            Hopefully we’ll never see an F1 team operate a car in the vicinity of a truck again.

  9. Back in the day, on my Grandfather’s farm, I was known as a firm protagonist in the Ground-Hog wars.

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