Lawrence EdmondsonF1 Editor3 minutes to read
Formula 1 announced on Wednesday that the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix weekend in Imola, Italy, will not continue after severe weather led to flooding in the local area.
F1 held meetings with local authorities and the race promoter on Wednesday before agreeing the event could not continue safely.
“The decision was made because the event cannot be held safely for our fans, teams and staff and it is the right and responsible thing to do given the situation that towns and cities in the region are facing.” F1 said in a statement.
“It would not be right to put more pressure on local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time.”
The Grand Prix was scheduled to be the sixth round of the season and the first of three consecutive races, with events scheduled to take place in Monaco and Spain over the following weekends.
F1 will consider the possibility of rescheduling the race for later in the year, but the busy calendar and the sport’s two-week summer break in August mean finding a suitable date is unlikely.
Heavy rain in the area led to flooding on Tuesday night, leading to fears that the Santerno River, which runs next to the Imola circuit, could flood. The precinct was evacuated as a precaution earlier on Tuesday after a red weather warning of flooding and landslides in the area.
The cars weren’t due to hit the track until Friday, but team members were already on the ground at Imola setting up hospitality units and setting up garages. Staff were told to stay away from the circuit on Wednesday as F1 officials met with local authorities and came to the conclusion that the event could not go ahead.
Officials in northern Italy warned residents to head to higher ground on Wednesday, stressing that floods have killed at least five people, forced the evacuation of about 5,000 people and suspended some train services.
Formula 1’s announcement followed a statement from Italy’s Transport Minister Matteo Salvini, who said it was “essential to focus all efforts on dealing with the emergency”, including avoiding traffic congestion in the region.
F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said: “It is a tragedy to see what happened to Imola and Emilia-Romagna, the city and region where I grew up, and my thoughts and prayers are with the flood victims, families and communities affected.
“I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for the wonderful emergency services who work tirelessly to help those who need help and ease the situation – they are heroes and the whole of Italy is proud of 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 an additional burden on the authorities as they deal with this very appalling situation.”
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