Formula 1 drivers Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda have shared stories of struggling to get out of the deadly flooding in northern Italy after this week’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix was canceled.
Floods which have killed at least eight people and caused more than 10,000 to be evacuated from their homes forced the race to be called off on Wednesday. The track is next to a swollen river. F1 said it wanted to avoid further burdening emergency services.
De Vries and Tsunoda drive for AlphaTauri, which is based in Faenza, a city close to the Imola track and which has been flooded. Rescuers used boats to transport people through the flooded streets of Faenza on Thursday.
Dutch driver de Vries said he was trying to reach Faenza shortly before midnight Tuesday ahead of marketing events at the factory scheduled for Wednesday but the roads were cut off.
“Faenza is already flooded and I am unable to get to my hotel. Returning to the highway is no option either. Stuck in a little village with one fully booked hotel,” he posted on Instagram on Thursday, recounting his experience with pictures and video of roads blocked by landslips.
“Fortunately McLaren got stranded there earlier and their front jack (mechanic) Frazer was kind enough to give me his room. The following morning, the hotel lobby turned into an emergency shelter for people who were forced to escape their homes during the night.”
De Vries said he eventually made his way home via the city of Florence after an “adventurous” drive on mountain roads and offered his thanks to local people who helped him on his journey.
Rescheduling the Grand Prix is unlikely
His teammate Tsunoda, who began living in Faenza in 2021 to work with AlphaTauri, said the city was badly hit.
“After a horrible night the town is heavily impacted: dust, mud, and the smell of gasoline everywhere,” the Japanese driver posted on social media on Wednesday. “Currently people are struggling to find food and especially places to stay, after many have been evacuated from their own homes.”
AlphaTauri said its own factory had not been affected by the floods and “everything is being done to ensure the safety of our employees and their families.” The team and both of its drivers issued appeals for donations to help people affected by the floods.
It is unlikely the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix will be rescheduled because of the busy calendar. Angelo Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club, which oversees all racing in the country, told the La Presse news agency that a one-year extension to the contract for the race, set to expire in 2025, was the likeliest outcome. “It´s 99% sure that it will be made up in 2026 after the contract is renewed,” Sticchi Damiani said.
The decision to cancel the Emilia-Romagna GP met with strong support from teams and drivers including seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and defending champion Max Verstappen, who leads the standings from his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
The next race is the Monaco GP on May 28, and the Spanish GP is a week later. (Associated Press)