Imola F1 race called off as floods devastate region | Inquirer Sports

Imola F1 race called off as floods devastate region

/ 10:08 AM May 18, 2023

A helicopter flies above the closed Motor racing-Imola paddock, as Santerno river levels rise due to heavy rain, ahead of the weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, in Imola, Italy, May 17, 2023.

A helicopter flies above the closed Motor racing-Imola paddock, as Santerno river levels rise due to heavy rain, ahead of the weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, in Imola, Italy, May 17, 2023. REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Formula One and local organizers called off the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Wednesday as torrential rain and flooding caused devastation across the northern Italian region.

The sport said the event could not be held safely this weekend and the decision was “the right and responsible thing to do given the situation faced by the towns and cities in the region”.

There is little scope for a rescheduling on a crowded calendar that initially had a record 24 events but dropped to 23 in January when China was canceled and is now set to end up with 22.

FEATURED STORIES

Italy’s civil protection agency had issued a red alert weather warning for the region on Monday and Transport Minister Matteo Salvini called on Wednesday for the race to be postponed “to concentrate all efforts on coping with the emergency”.

Last year’s race drew a weekend crowd of 129,000 and 64,000 on the Sunday.

The Imola circuit has the Santerno river flowing alongside it and while the paddock remained free of flooding, water levels were rising and surrounding areas including car parks and some access roads were waterlogged.

Officials said at least eight people had died and thousands were evacuated from their homes in towns and cities across the region.

ADVERTISEMENT
Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen followed by Red Bull Racing's Mexican driver Sergio Perez steer during the Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari race track in Imola, Italy, on April 24, 2022.

Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen followed by Red Bull Racing’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez steer during the Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari race track in Imola, Italy, on April 24, 2022. (Photo by GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / POOL / AFP)

Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali, who was born in Imola and worked at the track in his youth before joining Ferrari, said the decision not to proceed was correct.

“We need to ensure safety and not create extra burden for the authorities while they deal with this very awful situation,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The race was scheduled to be the sixth round of the season and the first in Europe.

Ferrari joined other drivers and teams in supporting the cancellation.

“Even though it’s our home race and therefore even more important to us, the main priority at the moment has to be the safety of all those living and working in the affected areas,” the Italian team said in a statement.

Principal Fred Vasseur said it was “heartbreaking to see what people are going through”.

Mercedes seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton told fans on social media: “We wish we could be racing but this is definitely the right decision.”

Formula One personnel were asked to leave the circuit on Tuesday amid fears of flooding. The paddock remained closed on Wednesday.

Cars were not due to be on track until Friday but advance team and technical personnel had arrived to set up the garages and hospitality.

The Grand Prix was scheduled to be the first triple header of the season, with Monaco and Spain following on successive weekends.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Red Bull has won every race so far and double world champion Max Verstappen is 14 points clear of teammate Sergio Perez.

“We support the decision… safety to all those involved and in the region is paramount and has to take priority,” the team said on Twitter.

RELATED STORIES

F1: Ferrari ‘won’t lose heart’ despite Imola setback

F1: Verstappen wins Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to rekindle title bid

TAGS: Formula One

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.