Formula One rocked as deadly floods in Italy force GP to be scrapped

The devastating situation in Italy left F1 officials with little alternative.

Pictured left is Formula One world champion Max Verstappen and flood waters in Italy on the right.
Max Verstappen is unable to defend his Emilia-Romagna title after deadly floods forced the Formula One GP to be cancelled. Pic: Getty

Formula One fans have been rocked by the news the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the deadly floods in Italy that have already claimed several lives. Reports overnight indicate that as many as nine people have been killed in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, with more unaccounted for and at least least 50,000 people across the region left without power.

Torrential rain and flooding has smashed the area where the F1 Grand Prix is held. The paddock at the track was evacuated earlier this because of fears of flooding and teams were advised not to enter the premises on Wednesday, before a call was eventually made to scrap the event.

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Organisers of the race concede it's unlikely they'll be able to reschedule the race due to F1's already packed race calendar. It's understandably a devastating blow to the race and the sport, however, officials said the safety of fans, competitors and officials had to take precedence.

"The decision has been taken because it is not possible to safely hold the event for our fans, the teams and our personnel and it is the right and responsible thing to do given the situation faced by the towns and cities in the region," F1 said. "It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time."

F1 said it was decided to cancel the race after discussions with the ruling body FIA, the race promoter as well as Italian ministers and regional authorities including the mayor of Imola. "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 boss 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 and prayers are with the victims of the flooding and the families and communities affected."

Deadly flooding ravages Emilia-Romagna region

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem added: "My thoughts and those of the entire FIA family are with those affected by the terrible situation in the Emilia Romagna region. The safety of everyone involved and recovery efforts are the top priority at this time."

Italian vice-premier Matteo Salvini, the nation's infrastructure and transport minister, had earlier in the day called for the race cancellation because an effort from all authorities was needed to fight the elements and that an overload of visitors and cars going to the race had to be avoided.

Seen here, authorities in Italy rescue civilians caught up in the deadly flooding.
Authorities in Italy rescue civilians caught up in the deadly flooding. Pic: Getty

The evacuation at the track earlier in the week had already led to a delay of preparations for the race weekend which would have started with two practice sessions on Friday. The Imola race track is near the factories of the Ferrari and Alpha Tauri F1 teams, which were fortunately unaffected by the deadly floodwaters savaging the region.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the people of Emilia-Romagna and Marche as they deal with the destruction caused by the heavy rain and flooding currently affecting the area," Ferrari tweeted. Alpha Tauri said their factory was not affected "and everything is being done to ensure the safety and of our employees and their families.

This image shows cars stuck in the deadly floods that have savaged Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region.
Deadly floods have savaged Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region. Pic: Getty

"Our sympathies go out to all those affected and we continue to monitor the situation, to see what can be done to help those in need as we await further developments," Alpha Tauri said.

Domenicali told Italy’s Sky Sports he hoped the race at Imola could be rescheduled for later in the year. However, the F1 CEO accepted that a packed race schedule for the rest of the season meant it was a long shot.

“We are sorry for the Imola fans and enthusiasts, we will try to find the right solution,” he said. “Given the tight calendar of 2023, it is difficult to think of being able to recover this year, but we have a moral obligation for those who have worked so hard, and we‘ll see."

with agencies

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