Domenicali: Given the tight schedule in 2023, it is difficult to think we can race at Imola

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“The cancellation of the Imola GP has been decided. At 99% it will be recovered in 2026 after the extension of the contract.”

These are the words from Acis’ president Angelo Sticchi Damiani, following the severe weather situation in the Emilia-Romagna Region, where water is flooding roads, buildings and engulfing territories.

Not only is the safety of the people working during the GP at risk, but also the safety of the local population. The priority for the emergency services is to focus on the evacuation of endangered areas of the region.

The press release stated:

“Following discussions between Formula 1, the President of the FIA, the competent authorities – including the relevant Ministers, the President of the Automobile Club of Italy, the President of Emilia-Romagna Region, the Mayor of the City and the promoter – the decision has been taken not to proceed with the Grand Prix weekend at Imola.

“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. It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time.”

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of F1, spoke on the matter:

“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.”

On SkySport24, Domenicali also emphasised the gravity of the situation and the need for the local authorities to devote themselves fully to protecting the local community.

“There are difficult decisions that have to be made in certain situations. It is logical to give priority to what is happening. A difficult situation and the priority was the safety of the people who are suffering.

“We are close to those who are suffering, we are also starting a fundraising campaign for the region for the AlphaTauri team, which is based in Faenza. Some of the guys working for the team have lost everything. In agreement with the authorities, we will lend a hand in a very complicated situation.

“When I arrived on Tuesday evening, it was clear that there was no other alternative. The complexity of organising an event like a GP requires manpower, logistics and services. 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. We are sorry for the Imola fans and enthusiasts, we will try to find the right solution.

“Given the tight schedule in 2023, it is difficult to think we can make up for it this year, but we have a moral obligation to those who have worked so hard and we will see.

“As an Imolese it is emotionally strong, I have friends involved, the local theme is strong, but I do not lose the rationality to make difficult decisions and my conscience is clear. The right choice has been made for everyone.

“We will try to make a contribution to those who have suffered and are suffering so much. Now it has stopped raining, but the forecast is not good and we can’t let in people who have to dismantle everything. The logistical machine is complex, but it’s good to be here and make everything go the right way. Thanks to everyone who is helping out.

“The people of this land are used to reacting, it already happened with the earthquake. Hard-working people, always with a smile. Once again, they will respond with a sense of responsibility, showing what they are capable of. Like all Italians after all.”

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem added:“My thoughts and those of the entire FIA family are with those affected by the terrible situation in the Emilia Romagna region. The safety of everyone involved and recovery efforts are the top priority at this time.”