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This weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will not go ahead. The race was cancelled after the tragic weather events in northern Italy.
On Tuesday, the F1 paddock had already been hastily evacuated, as the Santerno River, which flows just alongside the circuit, could break its banks at any moment. In total, 14 rivers had already broken their banks amid the torrential rain in the region.
In the end, Formula One management made the right call, taking multiple factors into consideration. For one, the series did not want to place an additional strain on emergency services and local authorities.
There was also the logistical challenge of running the Grand Prix, as many of Imola’s access roads had been blocked. And, of course, F1 could not guarantee the safety of drivers, team personnel and track workers.
F1 drivers and teams were quick to praise the decision taken by race organizers’ and series’ directors, echoing a paddock-wide sentiment and showing condolences to the victims. Major points for the series, which had come under heavy fire in 2020 for trying to go ahead with the Australian GP days after the WHO declaring the pandemic a global emergency.
The red weather emergency in northern Italy has caused nine confirmed fatalities so far. Thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes. Rainfall in the region averaged from 200 to 500 milimeters over the past 24-36 hours. Northern Italy averages 1,000 milimeters of rainfall in a year.
AlphaTauri’s factory, which is located in Faenza and just 15 kilometers away from Imola, was unaffected by the rainfall. Drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries shared their own stories.
Dutchman de Vries, who currently lives in Florence, found himself stuck in a nearby small village. With local roads blocked, the former F-E champion had no way to get back home. The village’s hotel had been turned into an emergency shelter, with all rooms booked.
Fortunately for de Vries, McLaren’s team personnel were also staying in the village, and the British team’s jackman was kind enough to share his room with the AlphaTauri driver. With the help of local rescue workers, de Vries was able to return home safely.
Tsunoda, who lives in Faenza, shared his own account on how badly the weather emergency affected the city.
After a horrible night the town is heavily impacted: dust, mud, and the smell of gasoline everywhere. Currently people are struggling to find food and especially places to stay,after many have been evacuated from their own homes. Please, anything you can do to help is appreciated pic.twitter.com/NQw72LeCLy
— 角田裕毅/Yuki Tsunoda (@yukitsunoda07) May 17, 2023
How Will Emilia Romagna GP’s Cancellation Affect the F1 Championship?
With a tight schedule, the 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix likely will not be rescheduled. While there has been no official word on the decision, series CEO Stefano Domenicalli all but confirmed it by saying that F1 will make up for the cancelled GP by adding one year to Imola’s contract.
While the cancellation won’t affect the standings, it will have an effect on car upgrades and the budget cap.
Plenty of teams, including Ferrari and Mercedes, brought extensive upgrades for Imola. However, with F1 now heading over to Monaco, these upgrades will likely be shelved until Barcelona at the earliest.
Given Monaco’s unique layout, the upgrades can’t be transferred over to the Monte Carlo street circuit. Monaco also comes with an additional risk of crashes, which could leave teams short on new car parts.
The budget cap will take a significant hit. F1’s budget cap is set to $135 million for 21 races, with an extra $1.2 million for each additional race. In other words, teams were planning with a $137.4 million budget for 2023. Imola’s cancellation will drop the cap to $136.2 million, making overspending a real threat.
While F1’s paddock was evacuated on Tuesday, team personnel were allowed back on track Thursday to retrieve their equipment. Next weekend’s race, the Monaco Grand Prix, will proceed as planned.
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