Why is there no F1 this weekend? Imola Grand Prix canceled, latest on Emilia Romagna weather

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The 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will not go ahead this weekend after prolonged heavy rain led to dangerous conditions at Imola.

After weeks of wet weather left the surrounding area at risk of significant flooding, the decision was made on Wednesday, May 17, to cancel the event amid concerns over the rising water level of the Santerno river, which runs close to the famous Italian track.

It follows an initial move on Tuesday to suspend all activity on the circuit, with the paddocks abandoned. This had been deemed to be more a precautionary move rather than an emergency, but the situation shows no signs of improving sufficiently in time for the weekend.

Italian officials have issued flood and landslide warnings for the area of Emilia Romagna, with more rainfall predicted through Wednesday and Thursday.

With that in mind, the decision was taken by all relevant parties to cancel the race and all associated events.

MORE: F1 standings 2023: Updated driver and constructor points

Rain, floods cause Emilia Romagna Grand Prix cancellation

Preparations for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola were originally thrown into chaos on Tuesday, May 16 as all Formula One personnel were ordered to evacuate the paddock due to the risk of floods.

The decision was made after days of heavy rainfall had seen the Santerno river, which runs mere yards from the circuit, burst its banks and flood surrounding areas.

With more rainfall forecast over the coming days, this weekend's grand prix had to be cancelled as officials deemed it unsafe to proceed.

In recent months, the area near the city of Bologna has suffered heavily due to substantial rainfall and stormy weather.

In early May, two people were killed during flooding in the area while hundreds of people had to be evacuated from their homes.

On Wednesday morning, F1 teams were advised not to travel to the circuit again due to flood warnings that were in place in the local area and the fact that some parts of the Imola track were submerged under water, though the F1 paddock remains clear. 

Italian team AlphaTauri also put out a brief statement on social media asking for donations to help those affected by the flooding in the region. The team have been directly affected as some of their team members had to evacuate their houses and sleep in the factory as a result, according to F1 journalist Chris Medland. 

It all meant that an announcement later on Wednesday confirming the cancellation was somewhat inevitable.

What is the Imola weather forecast for the weekend?

According to the latest forecasts in Italy, the worst of the weather is set to arrive on Saturday — the day qualification had been scheduled for — with heavy rainfall once again expected in the region surrounding the race track. 

The temperature is also anticipated to rise during the week, with highs of 16 degrees being replaced by highs of 22 degrees on Sunday, which would have been the day of the race.

Have F1 races been cancelled for bad weather before?

Although modern Formula One cars are built to work in almost any conditions if needed, officials can still decide to abandon grands prix in weather that is deemed seriously unsafe.

That was most recently seen during the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix in Spa where drivers followed the safety car around the track for two laps before the race was cancelled.

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On that occasion, half points were awarded to drivers who finished in the top 10 positions as less than 75% of the originally scheduled race distance had been completed.

The 2022 F1 season also saw a number of races affected by wet weather. On three occasions during grands prix in Monaco, Singapore, and Japan, the time limit for the event was reached before its full laps were run due to red flags.

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Nathan Evans is a data editor for The Sporting News.