Lewis Hamilton insists right decision is made as Emilia Romagna GP cancelled
Lewis Hamilton said the right decision has been taken to cancel this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix amid severe flooding in the region.
Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali took the decision to call off the sixth round of the season in northern Italy following an emergency meeting with local authorities and race officials on Wednesday.
Domenicali’s swift move arrived on the day F1 personnel were under instruction not to travel to the circuit in Imola. The paddock was also evacuated on Tuesday because of the risk of flooding.
Although the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari is not yet under water, surrounding areas are struggling to cope with the extreme weather, and there were grave concerns over the safety of transporting 300,000 spectators to and from the event over the course of three days, and diverting emergency services from troubled spots.
The Emilia Romagna region has been badly affected by torrential rain this month, killing two people and forcing hundreds to be evacuated from their homes.
It is the second F1 race to be cancelled on the eve of the event after the 2020 Australian Grand Prix was called off when a McLaren mechanic contracted coronavirus.
“Hoping everyone in Emilia Romagna is able to stay safe and look out for each other right now,” said Hamilton, who was deeply critical of F1’s decision to travel to Melbourne amid the outbreak of the global pandemic three years ago.
“Thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy and the amazing emergency services working on the ground.
“We were getting ramped up for the weekend and excited to get going but this is definitely the right decision.
“We wish we could be racing. But I know we all understand that safety comes first. I can’t wait to see you all at the next race.”
The race in Imola had been due to kick off F1’s first triple header of the season, with rounds to follow on consecutive weekends in Monaco and Spain.
Due to complexities of the sport’s packed schedule, at this stage it is not thought it will be possible to reschedule the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix for later in the year, dropping the number of rounds from 23 to 22.
It is understood that F1’s American owners’ Liberty Media will not charge Imola their hosting fee, thought to be around 20 million USD (£16m), and could add an additional year to their current deal which is up for renewal in 2025.
Fans attending the grand prix are likely to have the cost of their tickets reimbursed or rolled over for another season.
A statement from F1 read: “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.”
Domenicali informed the grid’s 10 team principals of his decision in a virtual call on Wednesday. It is believed they all supported the Italian’s verdict.
“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,” said Domenicali.
“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.”