Following severe flooding overnight, Formula 1 announced Wednesday that the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, slated for this weekend, is canceled. It is unlikely that decision-makers will put the race back on the calendar later in the season.
Heavy rains overnight caused “unprecedented” flooding in the northern Italian region, according to The New York Times. The Times reported that the flooding killed eight people and forced around 5,000 more to evacuate their homes. The cities of Parma, Bologna and San Marino all reside in the Emilia Romagna region. Imola is a small town that lies between Bologna and San Marino in the southeastern part of the region. It is home of the famed Imola race circuit, an iconic Formula 1 venue.
With the location a site of a natural disaster, F1 bosses and local officials opted to call off the race.
“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,” Formula 1 said in an announcement on Wednesday.
F1 bosses quickly assessed that the decision to cancel the race was “the right one”
It might’ve been possible to race Formula 1 cars on track this weekend. Evidently, the sport decided that was the wrong course of action. Along with the obvious poor optics of competing amid a disaster, an F1 race requires a bevy of first responders. With firefighters and paramedics occupied with search and rescue, there is no desire to pull them away from that work.
“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 of them,” said Stefano Domenicali, CEO and president of F1 in the announcement. “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.”
Numerous drivers and team personnel are in the flooded areas, on scene for the now-canceled race. AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda, seeing the destruction, set up a relief fundraiser and promoted it via his Twitter account.
“After a horrible night the town is heavily impacted: dust, mud, and the smell of gasoline everywhere,” Tsunoda said. “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.”