Emilia-Romagna floods: F1 drivers and teams unite to send messages of support

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris, Max Verstappen, George Russell, F1 image split May 2023.

Lando Norris, Max Verstappen, George Russell, F1 image split May 2023.

F1 drivers and teams have sent messages of support to those affected by flooding in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, with heavy rainfall having the knock-on effect of cancelling this weekend’s race at Imola.

The grid had been due to go racing for the sixth round of the F1 season this weekend in northern Italy, but torrential rain over the past couple of days has seen flooding stretch to nearby towns and increase fears that the nearby River Santerno would burst its banks.

As a result, staff working in the F1 paddock were asked to leave on Tuesday as a precautionary measure as rain hit the circuit and areas of the paddock saw water build up, followed by a request to not arrive at the circuit at all on Wednesday with rain continuing through the night and the forecast not easing any time soon.

With meetings having been held on Wednesday morning between local government officials and senior F1 figures, the decision was taken to cancel the race altogether on safety grounds.

Since then, F1 drivers and teams have voiced unanimous support for the choice to stop the race from happening, with Max Verstappen releasing a statement saying: “Max Verstappen and Verstappen.com are supportive of the decisions made by F1 and local authorities to cancel the Grand Prix.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the severe rainfall and flooding in the greater Emilia Romagna region. We wish you all strength to ensure your safety throughout this period.”

Verstappen’s team, Red Bull, added in a statement on Twitter: “Following the heavy rain that has been affecting northern Italy, we support the decision taken by F1 to not proceed with the Grand Prix in Imola this weekend. Safety to all those involved and in the region is paramount and has to take priority.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by the ongoing flooding in Emilia-Romagna and with the emergency teams serving in the region at this difficult time.”

Mercedes shared a statement of their own backing the race’s cancellation, saying: “The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team fully supports the decision by F1, the FIA, the race promoters and local authorities to not proceed with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend.

“The safety of the people in the Emilia Romagna region must take priority, alongside allowing local authorities and emergency services to continue their vital work helping those in need.

“Our thoughts are with the victims, families and communities who have been affected by the flooding in the region.”

Lewis Hamilton shared a post on his Instagram story, writing: “Hoping everyone in Emilia Romagna is able to stay safe and look out for each other right now. Thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy and the amazing emergency services working on the ground.

“I know we all understand that safety comes first. I can’t wait to see you all at the next race.”

“On behalf of everyone working for Scuderia Ferrari I would like to express our deepest sympathy to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy,” Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur said.

“Emilia-Romagna is our homeland and it’s heartbreaking to see what people are going through at the moment.”

McLaren wrote: “Our immediate thoughts are with the people of Emilia-Romagna as the destruction caused by the heavy rain affects the lives of so many here.”

Alpine said they “fully support” the decision to cancel the race, while Mercedes driver and Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director George Russell wrote on Twitter: “Sorry for the fans that this weekend’s race has been cancelled but the safety of everyone involved always has to come first. Wishing all the best to everyone in the Emilia-Romagna region and surrounding areas that have been affected by these floods.”

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Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg added his support, writing: “Race weekend in Imola is unfortunately cancelled but way more important now: really hope all the people who live in the Emilia-Romagna region stay safe in the next few days !!”

Oscar Piastri will have to wait another year before making his Formula 1 debut at Imola, and he also added a message of support on Twitter: “My thoughts are with those affected by the floods in the Emilia-Romagna region. Sorry to all the fans that we won’t be able to compete, I look forward to my first race at Imola in the future. Stay safe!”

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez echoed the sentiments of others, writing: “All my thoughts and prayers with the people in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna. We’re not racing there this weekend, but hopefully we can get back soon. Please stay safe!”