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Emilia Romagna F1 Grand Prix called off due to weather

General view of the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy, on April 24, 2022. The race will not be held this weekend due to flooding in the region. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON – The Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix at Imola will not be held this weekend due to extreme weather in the northern Italian region, organisers said on Wednesday.

At least five people have died and thousands were evacuated from their homes as devastating floods hit the Emilia Romagna region, authorities have said.

Transport Minister Matteo Salvini had earlier called for the race to be postponed “to concentrate all efforts on coping with the emergency”, while Italy’s civil protection agency had also issued a red alert weather warning for the region on Monday.

The race was scheduled to be the sixth round of the season and the first in Europe.

Formula One said in a statement that following high level discussions, “the decision has been taken not to proceed with the Grand Prix weekend at Imola”.

“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,” organisers said.

“It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time... We also want to pay tribute to the work of emergency services who are doing everything they can to help those in need.”

Stefano Domenicali, president and chief executive of Formula One, added in the statement: “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 of 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.”

Formula One personnel were asked to leave the circuit on Tuesday amid fears of flooding as water levels rose in the Santerno river that runs alongside the track. The paddock remained closed on Wednesday.

Cars were not due to be on track until Friday but advance team and technical personnel had arrived to set up the garages and hospitality.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, a home race for Ferrari, was scheduled to be the first triple header of the season, with Monaco and Spain following on successive weekends.

Red Bull have won every race so far and two-time world champion Max Verstappen is 14 points clear of teammate Sergio Perez.

The leaders, along with many other teams, said that it was the right call.

“We support the decision taken by @F1 to not proceed with the Grand Prix in Imola this weekend. Safety to all those involved and in the region is paramount and has to take priority,” Red Bull tweeted.

Italian outfit Ferrari said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the people of Emilia Romagna and Marche as they deal with the destruction caused by the heavy rain and flooding currently affecting the area.”

McLaren driver Lando Norris apologised to fans, saying: “I love racing, but the safety of everyone else is more important. Sorry to all the fans, we’ll be back Imola, stay safe.” REUTERS, AFP