F1 Cancels Imola GP Due to Weather Emergency
Written by Hugh Waring, Edited by Debargha Banerjee
The Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, scheduled to take place this weekend, has been cancelled due to severe flooding in the Emilia-Romagna region. The decision was made by Formula 1, the FIA, and the race organisers in response to the dangerous weather conditions that have plagued the area throughout May. The cancellation comes due to heavy rain causing numerous rivers to overflow, leading to extensive flooding and landslides.
Tragically, the extreme weather has already claimed the lives of at least two people in the region. The local population has been significantly affected, with many residents being displaced from their homes. Emergency flood relief fundraisers have been initiated to aid those affected by the devastating floods.
As a precautionary measure, Formula 1 instructed personnel setting up garages and hospitality units to leave the circuit on Tuesday, citing concerns over potential flooding from the nearby Santerno River. Furthermore, teams opted to relocate their staff members to different hotels. Distressing images and videos circulating on social media depicted the support paddock and TV areas breached by water, highlighting the severity of the situation.
After extensive discussions with authorities and race promoters on Wednesday morning, Formula 1 officials concluded that the race could not proceed safely. They also acknowledged that holding the event would place an additional burden on the local communities and strain the already stretched emergency services in the region.
Italian deputy prime minister and transport minister Matteo Salvini had called for the race to be postponed in order to focus on relief efforts. The decision to cancel the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was made collaboratively with the FIA, relevant ministers, the president of the Automobile Club of Italy, the president of the Emilia Romagna region, the mayor of the city, and the race promoter.
It is highly unlikely that the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be rescheduled later in the year due to the already congested Formula 1 calendar. This cancellation follows the anticipated cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled for the 16th of April but had to be called off due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in the country. Consequently, the cancellation of the race has resulted in a four-week gap between the Australian and Azerbaijani rounds.
A statement from F1 and CEO Stefano Domenicali reads: "The Formula 1 community wants to send its thoughts to the people and communities affected by the recent events in the Emilia-Romagna region. We also want to pay tribute to the work of the emergency services who are doing everything they can to help those in need.”
"Following discussions between Formula 1, the president of the FIA, the competent authorities including the relevant ministers, the president of the Automobile Club of Italy, the president of Emilia Romagna region, the mayor of the city and the promoter, the decision has been taken not to proceed with the grand prix weekend in Imola.”
"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. It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time."
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.”
There is a possibility that the race could be rescheduled a week after the Belgium Grand Prix, taking place on the first weekend of August, but this would be in conflict with the assigned summer break period, where no work is allowed towards developing the cars.
The 2023 season will resume with the Monaco Grand Prix, set to take place from May 26 to May 28.