Formula 1’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola this weekend has been called off due to flooding of the venue and the local area.
Wet weather has been having a destructive effect in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy for several weeks, and the highest level of weather alert has already been issued several times this week.
Preparations to hold the race had already begun. However the Santerno river which runs alongside the paddock and track was swelling with rainfall from elsewhere in the region, and its water level rose until it burst its banks on Tuesday afternoon.
Perimeter barriers around the track initially prevented that from flooding the paddock. But the situation posed such a risk that the teams due to arrive in the support paddock the next morning were told they would not be allowed to do so. Soon afterwards, those already working at the track were informed they needed to leave as a safety precaution.
That evening the Wednesday morning prohibition was extended to the whole day, and then to the whole paddock as F1 teams and media were informed the circuit would be closed for the day as the weather situation was monitored.
Wednesday began with more rain which put the support paddock and its power supply underwater, rendering it useless even if it had been safe to work there, and talks took place between local authorities and the circuit about the plan for Thursday and beyond with the prospect of less rain but a river that was still swelling and was already posing a flood risk to the town of Imola.
At 13:15 local time, F1 put out a statement announcing the grand prix would be cancelled. “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 said. “It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time.”
“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 Formula 1 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.
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