Emilia Romagna GP cancelled due to heavy flooding

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been cancelled amid heavy flooding in northern Italy.

Formula 1 personnel had previously been instructed to leave the paddock at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on Tuesday, before being advised to stay away on Wednesday as heavy rain continued to fall.

The decision was taken by local authorities and organisers of the race with Italy’s most severe red weather warnings in place for flooding and landslides, with other parts of the region having already been devastated.

A Formula 1 statement said: “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.”

It is understood the race is unlikely to be rescheduled due to the congested nature of the sport’s calendar, but organisers will look into any potential options.

Italian officials confirmed on Wednesday morning that the flooding had killed at least five people in the wider Emilia Romagna region, while around 5,000 had been evacuated from their homes.

The casualties follow two deaths in the region caused by flooding earlier in May, with heavy rains having made a devastating impact on land that had been parched by a prolonged drought.

Firefighters use dinghies to cross a flooded road near Faenza.

Italy-based F1 team AlphaTauri, whose factory is in nearby Faenza, said they were “very concerned” by the situation and taking action to “ensure the safety” of their staff.

“Scuderia AlphaTauri is very concerned about events unfolding over the past hours in Faenza and indeed in the whole Emilia-Romagna area, with flooding and heavy rain causing considerable damage,” the statement said.

“The team’s factory is currently unaffected and everything is being done to ensure the safety of our employees and their families.

“Our sympathies go out to all those affected and we continue to monitor the situation, to see what can be done to help those in need as we await further developments.”

AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, who lives in Faenza, appealed for donations to the emergency flood relief fund after sharing a harrowing account of the situation in the city.

“After a horrible night the town is heavily impacted: dust, mud, and the smell of gasoline everywhere,” Tsunoda posted on Twitter.

“Currently people are struggling to find food and especially places to stay, after many have been evacuated from their own homes. Please, anything you can do to help is appreciated.”

The cancellation means that F1’s original 24-race schedule for 2023 could now be reduced to 22, with the Chinese Grand Prix, which was slated for April, having been unable to take place due to the country’s Covid-19 restrictions.

There has been heavy rainfall at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

The Emilia Romagna GP was scheduled to be the first of a triple-header of European races, meaning the season is set to continue in Monaco next weekend, before moving on to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen leads the world championship by 14 points from team-mate Sergio Perez, with Red Bull, who are already 122 points clear in the constructors’ standings, having taken victory in all five races so far this season.

The Emilia Romagna GP had been highly anticipated due to the expected introduction of major upgrades for Mercedes and Ferrari, which both teams were hoping would reduce their deficit to the RB19.

Formula 1 president Stefano Domenicali, who spent much of his career working at Ferrari’s Maranello base in the Emilia-Romagna region, said the “right” decision had been taken.

“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,” he said.

“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: “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.”

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