Flood threat forces Formula 1 staff to evacuate Imola paddock

Henry Valantine
One of the kerbs at the Imola Circuit. Imola, April 2022.

A puddle sits on one of the kerbs at the Imola circuit ahead of the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Imola, April 2022.

Local authorities have ordered a precautionary evacuation of Formula 1 staff at Imola, with preparations underway in wet weather for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the weekend.

The Emilia Romagna region as a whole is currently under red alert for its weather forecast heading towards the weekend, and while the circuit itself is not flooded, broadcast and paddock areas have seen significant amounts of water build up over the course of Tuesday, per multiple reports from people already at the circuit.

Members of the teams have already arrived in Imola to set up their garages, hospitality units and pit walls ahead of the weekend, though these preparations have now been put on hold due to the inclement weather conditions.

With water levels rising from the nearby River Santerno and rain forecast to continue for the next 24 hours, the instruction was taken at the circuit to ask staff members to leave as a precautionary measure, with Spanish F1 broadcaster Antonio Lobato claiming that the nearby river has even overflowed, with it passing nearby the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

The Emilia Romagna region’s Department of Civil Protection confirmed a continuation of its red alert for weather heading into Tuesday, with forecasts of “strong to stormy winds, accompanied by heavy showers, frequent electrical activity and possible hailstorms.”

Continuation of the bad weather could raise doubts about whether the state of the race itself may be under threat, given rain continues to be forecast for the coming days and the potential for up to 100mm of rain to fall on Wednesday alone.

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Plans are believed to be in place from local authorities over the possibility of school closures in the region on Wednesday and potential home working options for local people if roads are closed.

There are still several days to go before racing is due to start at Imola this weekend, with Friday 19 May set to be the first day of running for free practice.