By Liam Pointing
Formula One is the premier category in motor racing. Pushing the limits of engineering, technology, and human reflexes, it’s a race of high intensity from the moment the flag drops. But, sometimes, the cars have had unexpected guests joining them on the track.
Here are five times Formula One cars have shared the tarmac with things that don’t have an engine.
Pluck of the Irish
Doomsayer Irish priest Cornelius Horan decided to run on to the track during the 2003 British Grand Prix. The cars had just come on to Hangar Straight where they reach over 300km/h. Horan was prophesying the end of times while multiple cars had to swerve to avoid him. He was eventually tackled by a marshal. For this, Horan got two months in jail (wonder if he prophesied that?).
As we share the world with animals, it’s only fair we share the track as well, right? This time, teenage sensation Max Verstappen came face-to-face with “Godzilla”, a giant lizard walking on to the track during practice at the Singapore Grand Prix in 2016. Funnily enough, Verstappen encountered another lizard in Singapore this year, must be one of the relatives.
Block of seagulls
A hot Formula One track isn’t the best place to stand around and have a chat. During practice for the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix, these seagulls thought otherwise and were quite content to stay still while Sebastian Vettel came steaming in at around 120km/h. He did lock up a wheel, which he maintains was due to the seagulls’ presence. No seagulls were harmed in the making of this apex.
In Canada again, and this time a swift groundhog found its feet to scurry across the track. During practice for the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz Jr came extremely close to obliterating the groundhog. Avoiding two other cars, this is one version of Groundhog Day that lucky creature won’t want to relive.
Disgruntled employees sometimes do crazy things, and here we have a prime example. Robert Sehli had been terminated from his Mercedes job of 22 years. He ran across the Hockenheim track in protest during the 2000 German Grand Prix while cars were doing over 160km/h. Swiftly rushed away, he was fined but ended up winning a court case relating to his termination. Winning 91000 francs back then, maybe it was all worth it.
Featured image: Cornelius Horan was a moving chicane at Silverstone in 2003. Photos: Alan Denney/CC/flickr, Martin Lee/CC/Wikimedia Commons