Cancelled: F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix As Severe Weather Looms
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola has been cancelled after severe weather has hit the region and caused the evacuation of the paddock on Tuesday, while further heavy rain is expected on Thursday and there are fears the adjacent river may burst its banks.
Formula One (F1) took the precaution with the possibility of flooding affecting the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari over a two–day period during which authorities issued a red alert for Tuesday and Wednesday of flooding and landslides in the Emilia Romagna region.
Despite the warnings and evacuations, F1 remains optimistic that the race will go ahead this weekend as planned have been dash. The region was already hit two weeks ago by severe weather, which caused two fatalities, and the forecast is for it to continue all this week, with thunderstorms forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Teams had already arrived at the track to begin their build for the weekend, with Tuesday the principal day used for assembling their garages, equipment, motor homes and hospitality.
After the weather warning was issued they continued to do so until the race promoter and authorities asked them to leave as a precaution, which was carried out in a calm and orderly fashion. The circuit is flanked by the Santerno River which runs parallel to the paddock.
F1 has insisted the river banks have not been breached but it is being monitored, with very high water levels. Videos of it on social media showed the broad and fast–flowing waterway running exceptionally high and that there was some water accumulating in the paddock and track area.
The FIA is also monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of all F1 personnel. The expectation was the rain will abate somewhat before this weekend’s race but further heavy rain is forecast for Wednesday, with warnings of between 100mm and 150mm.
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 at 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.
Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, 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.
“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 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 extra burden for the authorities while they deal with this very awful situation.”
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.”
Conditions on the race weekend are understood to not be of a concern but rather the issues that could affect the circuit from significant flooding before then, particularly if the river level rises further.
More than 120,000 fans are expected to attend this weekend but for the moment the National Crisis Unit in Italy, which has warned of up to 150mm of rain on Wednesday, has already urged people to remain at home because of the risks the severe weather posed. “In the areas affected by the red alert, the mayors could foresee, for tomorrow, the closure of schools and roads most at risk, starting from those near the banks and landslide areas,” it warned. “The invitation to citizens is to avoid travel as much as possible and to resort, where possible, to smart working.”
F1 is monitoring the situation while remaining optimistic that the race will go ahead this weekend as planned. Teams are continuing preparations for the race, but will continue to take precautions and heed warnings from authorities.
The safety of F1 personnel and fans is of paramount importance and F1 is determined to ensure the event can proceed in the safest possible manner.