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Indian Grand Prix dogged by animals? You bet

By Alan Baldwin

NOIDA, India (Reuters) - The odds on a dog running on to the track and interrupting the inaugural Indian Grand Prix were priced at 100-1 Friday despite two incidents during first practice at the Buddh circuit.

British bookmaker William Hill offered what looked like attractive odds on any part of third practice, qualifying or the Formula One race itself being delayed due to the presence of an animal on the circuit.

While Friday's problems might be shrugged off as not unusual for India, where animals dead and alive are traffic hazards, it was no laughing matter for the drivers and particularly for Renault's Brazilian Bruno Senna.

Senna, whose uncle and triple world champion Ayrton died in a crash at Imola in 1994, was lucky to escape unscathed when he hit a dog on the track during a GP2 race at the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix.

"I saw a dog at the entrance to the track today, near the paddock and it was the same dog that stopped the Formula BMW session," he told Reuters. "So that was a bit worrying.

"Hopefully they (the marshals) will be keeping a sharper eye out. It's better to happen in a practice session than happening in a race like happened in Turkey where out of the blue two dogs showed up.

"It's a major worry, a very serious issue and we hope we don't have to think about it any more... I have suffered the consequences once and thankfully came out of it alive," said Senna.

Driver safety is very much on the minds of everyone in Formula One after a grim few weeks for motorsport, with double Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli killed in track accidents.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said he was confident the dog problem had been resolved.

"It was not good obviously to see animals running on the track," the double world champion told Reuters. "If this happened in a race situation it can become dangerous.

"If you are in a group of cars or something it can cause an accident... it is something that I am sure the circuit will avoid and I'm 100 percent confident that Sunday it will be no problem at all."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar; For Reuters sports blog Left Field go to: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport)