Formula 1 teams have been allowed access back into the paddock at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in flood-hit Imola in order to pack up their equipment and prepare for dispatch to Monaco.
F1 confirmed on Wednesday that this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been abandoned after intensive rain in the area led to fears that the nearby Santerno river could burst its banks and flood the circuit.
With local roads flooded and impassable in places, teams had been ordered to stay away from the track from Tuesday afternoon. AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries had found it impossible to reach the team’s factory by road in nearby Faenza.
The F2 paddock and F1’s TV compound had been hit by flood water, but the F1 paddock was on higher ground and escaped. Some term personnel were still in transit to Italy when the circuit was closed, and were sent home.
Today the teams have been given the all-clear to get back to the pit lane and the half-competed garage facilities in order to pack up their equipment in readiness for shipping to the next venue in Monaco.
With just a week originally scheduled between Imola and Monaco, any further delay in getting equipment out of the flood-hit area could still threaten F1’s ‘crown jewel’ event, although teams are confident that it will go smoothly.
It remains unclear whether the abandoned Grand Prix will be rescheduled for later in the year, or whether the 2023 calendar will be reduced to 22 events and Imola’s current contract to host the event extended into 2026 instead.
Fans with tickets for this weekend’s race are being given the choice to convert them to tickets for 2024, or alternatively apply for a refund – although the processing of the requests may be delayed by the current situation.
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said that while it had been a difficult decision and that he was sorry for the fans who had been planning to attend, in another way there had been simply no question of going ahead.
“There are difficult decisions but in certain situations they have to be taken,” Domenicali told Italy’s SkySport24 on Wednesday.
“It is logical to give priority to what is happening. It is a difficult situation and the priority was the safety of the population that is suffering.
“When I arrived on Tuesday evening it was clear that there was no other alternative,” he said. “The track would have been ready to be run, but the priority was something else.
“Having said that, I informed all the teams and nobody had any objections,” he added. “We are sorry for the Imola fans and enthusiasts – we will try to find the right solution.”
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