Formula 1 canceled this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Wednesday heavy rain and deadly flooding in northern Italy it was dangerous to continue the Imola race.
Officials in Italy warned residents in the region to seek higher ground this week after heavy downpours caused rain-swollen rivers to overflow their banks, flooding towns and disrupting power services and cellphone networks. At least eight people died and more than 5,000 fled their homes.
Some of the worst-hit areas received nearly 20 centimeters of rain in 36 hours, and nearly two dozen rivers have already burst their banks.
Given the extent of the destruction and ongoing rescue efforts, Formula 1 said in a statement it had no choice but to cancel. The decision was taken, he said, “because it is not possible to hold an event safely for our fans, teams and our staff and it is the right and responsible thing to do given the situation facing cities in the region.” .
“It would not be right to put further pressure on local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time.”
The race at Imola would be the sixth race of the current Formula 1 season, the world-famous circuit, which was in Miami two weeks ago and will move to Monaco before the end of the month. It is unclear whether a canceled event can be rescheduled; Formula 1’s busy schedule has little flexibility given the time and challenges involved move it from country to country.
If the Imola race is not postponed, Formula 1 will have 22 races this year instead of the record 23 it had planned.
It was clear earlier this week that the race was in jeopardy. Scenes of dramatic rescues of residents from flood-hit towns – using helicopters, small boats and even on the backs of rescue workers – have dominated Italy’s national news broadcasts over the past two days.
Schools in the region canceled classes, train services were suspended and roads and highways were closed. Aerial images showed submerged fields, mud-covered streets and flooded cities.
Formula 1 had earlier ordered its teams to stay away from the Imola circuit, which runs alongside the Santerno River, and residents who had not left the city were warned to move to higher floors. Photos from the track released by journalists showed that the paddock area was flooded.
The entire Emilia-Romagna region faces the threat of more rain and more flooding this week, followed by months of cleanup and repairs.
“It is such a tragedy to see what has happened to Imola and Emilia-Romagna, the city and region I grew up in,” said Stefano Domenicali, chief executive of Formula 1. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the flood and the families and communities affected .”
“The decision that has been taken is the right one for everyone in the local communities and in the F1 family,” he added, “as we need to ensure safety and not create an additional burden on the authorities as they deal with this very dire situation. “