Equatorial Singapore is no stranger to the presence of large lizards. However, on Friday, these creatures caused a bit of a disturbance during the Formula One practice session as they ventured onto the racetrack, catching the attention of Red Bull‘s double world champion, Max Verstappen, and other drivers.
In response to the unexpected visitors, yellow flags were quickly unfurled, their fluttering forms serving as a warning to the drivers of the sizable obstruction ahead. The lizards, known to grow up to three metres in length, strolled across the racetrack at the day’s end during an hour-long session.
Wildlife encounters such as this are not uncommon in the world of racing. Drivers racing on Canada’s Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal often spot groundhogs and foxes. On the other hand, races once held in Malaysia, which no longer features in the calendar, occasionally dealt with snakes on the track.
The incident on Friday revived memories of the 2016 Singapore race when Max Verstappen, taken aback by the appearance of a substantial lizard. His engineer nicknamed this unlikely visitor ‘Godzilla.’ In reference to the recent encounter, Verstappen remarked on the team radio, “Ah. There’s a lizard again on the track. A smaller one this time”. Prompting an amusing response from engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, “Maybe Godzilla had a kid”.
Monitor lizards, though generally shy creatures, can become bold when cornered, according to Singapore’s National Parks’ Board. They recommended observing these creatures from a distance. Given that these lizards are diurnal, sleeping at night, it was hoped that the racing events wouldn’t face further delays due to stray lizards.
Red Bull‘s team boss, Christian Horner, expressed light-hearted concern for the marshal tasked with capturing the reptilian visitor, telling Sky Sports television, “It’s going to be a brave marshal to go out and pick one of those up.” He then added humorously, “Hopefully they’ll be going to bed soon.”
Thinking back to the ‘Godzilla’ incident, Horner reflected, “I think the one that Max met the last time was more of a Komodo dragon than a lizard, but the main thing is hopefully they can grab them up and put them somewhere safe and they don’t get involved in the next session.”