Formula 1 has announced that the 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will not take place this weekend due to heavy flooding around the Imola circuit and across the Emilia Romagna region.
The 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been called off as a result of extreme weather in the Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy. The Imola race was expected to be the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 Formula 1 season, kicking off a triple header of events with the Monaco Grand Prix and Spanish Grand Prix following on successive weekends.
Heavy rainfall has led to extreme flooding in the Emilia Romagna region, with many rivers bursting their banks. A red weather warning is currently in place in the area due to the extreme weather. The 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been cancelled due to safety concerns for personnel and fans visiting the track. Formula 1 was also keen to not place an unnecessary strain on emergency services at a critical time.
The Emilia Romagna region appeared in the news earlier this month due to similar extreme weather. Heavy flooding resulted in landslides which have claimed the lives of five locals, while thousands have been displaced from their homes as the heavy rain continues.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Formula 1 confirmed that discussions between local authorities and race organisers had led to the cancellation of the event:
“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.”
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, who hails from the Emilia Romagna region, paid tribute to the local emergency services:
“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.”
There has been no official news on whether or not the 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be rescheduled for later in the year. However, an already packed 2023 F1 calendar makes the inclusion of Imola at a later date unlikely.
The 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is the second of an originally planned 24 races to be cancelled in the 2023 season. In January, the Chinese Grand Prix was called off for the fourth year in succession due to travel concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Imola circuit evacuated as precaution
On Tuesday afternoon, with preparations for the race weekend in full swing, personnel were evacuated from the Imola circuit due to the risk of flooding. Images shared on social media showed areas around the circuit already waterlogged, while the nearby Santerno river – which runs adjacent to the track – appeared to be close to bursting its banks.
With more rain overnight, areas around the track – including the television compound and the support race paddock – were submerged in water. Prior to the event’s cancellation, personnel were instructed to not attend the circuit on Wednesday. With more rain expected over the coming days, Formula 1 was left with little option other than to call off the race weekend.
This marks only the third time that a Formula 1 race weekend has been cancelled with personnel having already arrived at the track. It last happened at the 2020 Australian Grand Prix, when the race was called off just hours before the opening practice session due to a member of the McLaren team testing positive for coronavirus.
For fans with valid tickets for the race, it has been announced by the official ticket partner, TicketOne, that it will be possible to roll over tickets to next year’s edition of the race or receive a refund, less transaction costs. “Given the ongoing emergency in the region, we will need a few days to arrange this. More detailed information will be sent via e-mail in the coming days and posted on the sales sites imolagpf1.ticketone.it and ticketone.it.” Refunds are also expected to be available for fans who have purchased tickets through official ticket partners for the event, including our supplier, Grand Prix Tickets (GPT). Communications to buyers will be sent in due course.