After Formula 1 announced the 2023 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola would be cancelled because of poor weather, questions were immediately raised as to what will happen to the race? Will it be cancelled or just postponed?
Flooding hit the Emilia Romagna region of Italy in early May, with a further bout of heavy rain causing the Italian authorities to issue a red weather alert, alerting of flooding and landslides.
With a tightly congested calendar in place for 2023, finding a free weekend later in the year when F1 could race at Imola would be an arduous task due to the lack of time on hand to fix a date for the rescheduled race.
What happens now, and could it affect Imola’s F1 future?
Rain causes chaos
In early May, whilst F1 was in Miami, bad weather impacted the Emilia Romagna region affecting some AlphaTauri’s employees who were impacted by flooding which claimed the lives of two people.
A second period of heavy rain caused horrific flooding in Faenza, submerging sections of the Imola circuit in the process including the Formula 2 and Formula 3 paddocks and forcing the army to be drafted in.
A total of 21 rivers in the region broke their dams submerging entire towns with the Santorno river next to the circuit reaching high levels of flooding on Tuesday.
Teams and media had arrived at Imola on Tuesday to set up for the weekend ahead before being ordered to evacuate the circuit. Alpine personnel forced to leave their hotel after it was hit by the floods and some members AlphaTauri were forced to sleep inside the factory overnight which was undamaged.
Not long after Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini called for the race’s postponement, F1 announced in a statement they wouldn’t hold the race this weekend.
What next for Imola?
Despite an official statement from F1 not mentioning whether the race would be cancelled completely or rescheduled, Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) president Angelo Sticchi Damiani confirmed the race will not go ahead in 2023, opening discussion of having a race instead in 2026.
“It has been decided to cancel the Imola GP,” said Sticchi Damiani to Autosprint. “I’m 99% sure it will be made up in 2026 after a contract extension.”
With most races having contracts up until the 2030s, finding a spot in Imola for 2026 will be no easy task due to the increased demand in hosting a GP.
However it’s not uncommon for races to get extensions to their current deals even if a race is cancelled as both China and Australia had their deals extended after not hosting the sport for more then two years because of Covid-19.
Albert Park received a contract extension until 2037 after a record crowd of over 400,000 visited during the 2022 Australian GP, so providing 2024 goes without a hitch, Imola may find it’s deal extended into the next decade.