Formula Two cars came within inches of running over a pigeon just hours before F1’s Dutch Grand Prix got underway. Pigeons were a major issue during Saturday’s on-track running with complaints from drivers including George Russell.
The Mercedes driver took to team radio in FP3 to raise awareness of the issue after spotting them on the side of the tarmac. He said: “Those pigeons are back at the apex of Turn 7.”
Later in the afternoon, Alex Albon also complained about the birds in the opening stages of Q2. He added: “Yeah there’s a ton of pigeons around.”
A red flag was thrown moments later after a flare was thrown onto the circuit which allowed a marshal to shepherd the animals away. It comes just months after Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz had a close shave with a groundhog at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The animals are frequent visitors to the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve and often pop up during race weekends, making another appearance during the 2015 race.
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The Dutchman had to battle back from being six-tenths down on Ferrari in Friday practice but was only ahead by two-hundredths of a second at the line. However, Verstappen did benefit from a bout of good luck with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton unable to complete his final run after Sergio Perez crashed in the closing stages.
Verstappen is targeting a fourth consecutive win for the first time in his career and could extend his championship advantage to beyond 100 points this afternoon. He currently lies 93 points behind Perez and 98 behind Charles Leclerc with just eight races to go.
Victory today could mean Verstappen can afford to retire from over half of the remaining races and still be ahead in the standings.