F1: Emilia Romagna Grand Prix OFF as severe weather batters area
This weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been called off because of the heavy downpours hitting the region.
Formula 1 personnel had on Tuesday night been told to stay away from the track for a second day after being evacuated on Tuesday afternoon as a safety precaution amid the deluge of rain.
After consulting with Italian authorities on Wednesday morning, the decision was taken to call off the race weekend with immediate effect.
It was decided the grand prix could not proceed safely and that it would be wrong to go ahead and put a further burden on the already stretched emergency services and local community who have been dealing with flash flooding for weeks throughout the region.
While the track itself was not necessarily susceptible to heavy flooding from the neighbouring Santerno river, there were growing fears for F1 personnel and fans - 120,000 were expected for Sunday’s race - getting safely in and out from the track over the course of the weekend.
Formula 1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “It is such a tragedy to see what has happened to Imola and Emilia Romagna, the town and region that I grew up in and my thoughts are with the victims of the flooding and the families and communities affected.
“I want to express my gratitude and admiration to the incredible emergency services who are working tirelessly to help those who need help and alleviate the situation. They are heroes and the whole of Italy is grateful to them.
“The decision that has been taken is the right one for everyone in the local communities and the F1 family as we need to ensure safety and not create extra burden for the authorities while they deal with this very awful situation.”
F1 bosses have said they will look at the possibility of rescheduling the race for later in 2023 but that looks unlikely such is the packed nature of this year’s already marathon calendar.
Rain was expected to continue to fall heavily throughout today and then ease off tomorrow. But more heavy downpours were forecast over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
F1 bosses had initially earlier today sounded a confident note on the race weekend going ahead as planned and teams had been advised to still travel as normal to the event before a later U-turn this afternoon.
Despite operational plans being put in place and well advanced to deal with the impact of the adverse weather conditions, the final decision rested in the hands of the local Government officials.