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This weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Italy, will not go ahead after extreme weather resulted in flooding in the local area, Formula One revealed on Wednesday.
F1 held meetings with local authorities and the race promoter on Wednesday before agreeing the event could not proceed safely.
“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,” F1 said in a statement.
“It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time.”
The Grand Prix was due to be the sixth round of the season and the first of three races in a row, with events in Monaco and Spain due to take place over the following two weekends.
F1 will look at the likelihood of rescheduling the race later in the year, but the packed calendar and the sport’s enforced two-week summer break in August means finding a suitable date is unlikely.
Heavy rainfall in the area resulted in flooding on Tuesday night, leading to concerns the Santerno river, which runs adjacent to the Imola circuit, would overflow. The circuit was evacuated as a precaution earlier on Tuesday following a red weather alert warning of floods and landslides in the area.
Cars were not due on the track until Friday, but team members were already on the ground in Imola setting up hospitality units and preparing garages. Personnel were told to stay away from the circuit on Wednesday as F1 officials met with local authorities and came to the conclusion that the event could not go ahead.
Officials in northern Italy have warned residents should go to higher ground on Wednesday, as well as confirming that flooding killed at least five people, forced the evacuation of some 5,000 and suspended some train services.
F1’s announcement followed a statement from Italy’s transport minister, Matteo Salvini, saying it was “imperative to concentrate all efforts on coping with the emergency,” including avoiding a traffic overload in the area.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali stated: “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.”