Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Imola race called off because of major flooding

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A municipal police officer watches rescue workers in the distance checking a van on a flooded street in Castel Bolognese, near Ravenna
Italian authorities say thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in the Emilia Romagna region

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been called off this weekend because of major flooding in the region.

Discussions on Wednesday between local authorities and organisers of the race at Imola in Italy concluded that the event could not proceed safely.

In addition, there was a desire not to dilute the efforts of emergency services dealing with problems across the area.

F1 said calling off the race was “the right and responsible thing to do”.

F1 president and chief executive officer 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.

“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.”The decision comes after a red weather warning was issued for the region on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There has been widespread flooding across the Emilia Romagna region. At least three people have been killed and authorities have warned people to move to higher ground.

Red Bull’s Alpha Tauri team, who are based in nearby Faenza, said in a statement they were “very concerned about events unfolding over the past hours in the whole Emilia Romagna area, with flooding and heavy rain causing considerable damage”.

The statement added: “The team’s factory is currently unaffected and everything is being done to ensure the safety of our employees and their families.”

The Ferrari factory in Maranello is just over 50 miles north-west of Imola and also in the affected region.

The track was evacuated on Tuesday as a result of the risk of flooding from the Santerno river, which runs next to the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

F1 personnel were forbidden from entering the circuit on Wednesday as heavy rain had continued overnight and into the morning.

The Emilia Romagna GP had been scheduled to be the sixth race of the season and was the first of three events on consecutive weekends, followed by Monaco and Spain.

F1 will look at options for rescheduling the race but it is considered unlikely to make a return because of the crowded schedule.

There had been plans for a record 23-race calendar in 2023 but the cancellation of Imola means that the schedule will be reduced to 22, the same as last year.

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton said he hoped everyone in the region was able to “stay safe and look out for each other”.

“Thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy and the amazing emergency services working on the ground,” Hamilton said on Instagram.

World champion and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen said he supported the decision to call off the race, adding: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the severe rainfall and flooding in the greater Emilia Romagna region. We wish you all strength to ensure your safety throughout this period.”

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “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.”

Mercedes’ George Russell said: “Sorry for the fans that this weekend’s race has been cancelled but the safety of everyone involved always has to come first.”

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