Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been called off to prioritise the relief effort following devastating flooding in the region.
At least three people are reported to have died and thousands evacuated from their homes in what one city mayor called “the worst night in the history of Romagna”.
Severe weather warnings have been in place on Tuesday and Wednesday in the region, which includes the Imola circuit.
F1 personnel were asked to leave the track on Tuesday afternoon and have not been allowed to return on Wednesday.
Sorry for the fans that this weekend’s race has been cancelled but the safety of everyone involved always has to come first.
Wishing all the best to everyone in the Emilia-Romagna region and surrounding areas that have been affected by these floods.
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) May 17, 2023
Circuit facilities have suffered flooding, from the Santerno river that runs next to the track, although the F1 paddock had avoided the worst of the water as of Wednesday morning.
The bigger problem though is the impact the flooding has had elsewhere, even beyond the infrastructure issues like road and bridge closures in the immediate area.
Severe flooding has forced many people from their homes and, for the second time in just a few weeks, also caused fatalities.
One of the options believed to be under discussion on Wednesday morning was delaying the start of the event, as teams and the FIA had lost a day and a half setting up at the track, and running a truncated schedule over the weekend.
However, in light of the emergency situation it has been determined by F1 that “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,” F1’s statement also said.
Race weekend in Imola is unfortunately canceled but way more important now: really hope all the people who live in the Emilia-Romagna region stay safe in the next few days !!
— Nico Hülkenberg (@HulkHulkenberg) May 17, 2023
“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,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
“I want to express my gratitude and admiration for 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 proud on 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.”
Running the event later in the year appears unlikely given how packed the calendar is.