At 13:00 local time on Wednesday, Formula 1 released the following update on the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola:
“The Formula 1 community wants to send its thoughts to the people and communities affected by the recent events in the Emilia-Romagna region. We also want to pay tribute to the work of the emergency services who are doing everything they can to help those in need.
“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 in 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,” concluded the statement.
Domenicali: It is such a tragedy to see what has happened to Imola
Later in a press release F1 chief Stefano Domenicali, an Italian, 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 on 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 added in the same PR: “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.”
By Wednesday morning the writing was on the wall as flood levels rose dangerously
Earlier, Transport Minister Matteo Salvini said in a statement it was “imperative to concentrate all efforts on coping with the emergency”, including avoiding a traffic overload in the area, which has been battered by bad weather in recent days.
The Grand Prix, a home race for Ferrari, is scheduled to be the sixth round of the season and first of a triple header with Monaco and Spain following on successive weekends.
Red Bull have won every race so far and double F1 world champion Max Verstappen is 14 points clear of team mate Sergio Perez.
The paddock remained closed on Wednesday, with Formula One personnel asked to leave the circuit on Tuesday amid fears of flooding as water levels rose in the Santerno river that runs alongside the track.
An update on the situation was expected later on Wednesday. Cars are not due to be on track until Friday but advance team and technical personnel had arrived to set up the garages and hospitality.
Italy’s civil protection agency on Monday issued a red alert weather warning for the northern region write Reuters reporters Crispian Balmer and Alan Baldwin.
Imola flooding puts Grand Prix weekend under threat
Before the cancellation we reported, flooding and a rising river very near the Imola track have raised concerns over the running of this weekend’s race after torrential rains pelted down incessantly, flooding parking and other areas at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit are flooded and the press room was evacuated.
The Santerno River, almost bursting its banks, runs right next to the track. More rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week, with practice due to start at Imola on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday. Teams had already started setting up their garages.
A spokesman for the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari did not immediately return a request for comment from media.
Imola organisers had expected 120,000 spectators per day from Friday onwards
Amid scary visuals of the widespread flooding throughout the area, F1 bosses remained in constant dialogue with the promoter and local authorities to see if it can press on with the schedule, with first practice due to start on Friday.
The grid’s 10 F1 teams will also have faced a scramble to get ready for the event following the evacuation on Tuesday, and the advice by local authorities not to travel to the circuit on Wednesday.
As many as 120,000 spectators were expected at the track for Sunday’s race with F1 saying it already has operational plans in place to deal with the impact of the adverse weather conditions.
Last year’s race at Imola was also rain-affected until race day when it dried up and Max Verstappen went on to win for Red Bull.
More updates to follow as they arise. Report in progress…
Social Media Reports:
unfortunately, our town of Faenza has once again experienced significant rainfall and subsequent flooding