Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has admitted it will be “difficult” to find an alternative date for Imola to be on the calendar again this season.
Sources told PlanetF1.com that, given the congestion in races to come for the remainder of the season, the calling off of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Wednesday is more likely to be a full cancellation rather than a postponement.
Flooding in the region has caused what Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur called “heartbreaking” damage to local areas, and following meetings between Formula 1, the FIA and local authorities on Wednesday morning, the decision was taken to cancel the race altogether for the weekend, with emergency services working at capacity trying to help local people.
Domenicali said “it was clear” that the race would be unable to go ahead when he arrived at the circuit on Tuesday, given the circumstances in the surrounding area.
There has been overwhelming support for the cancellation from teams and drivers, and the Formula 1 chief executive explained that the decision was made with the “priority” being away from the sport in trying circumstances in the region.
“There are difficult decisions but in certain situations they have to be taken,” Domenicali said to SkySport24 in Italy once the announcement had been made.
“It is logical to give priority to what is happening. It is a difficult situation and the priority was the safety of the population that is suffering.
“We are close to those who are suffering, we are also starting a fundraising campaign for the region for the AlphaTauri stable, which is based in Faenza.
“Some of the guys working for the team have lost everything. In agreement with the authorities, we will lend a hand in a very complicated situation.
“When I arrived on Tuesday evening it was clear that there was no other alternative.
“The complexity of organising an event like a GP takes manpower, logistics and facilities.
“The track would have been ready to be run, but the priority was something else. Having said that, I informed all the teams and nobody had any objections.
“We are sorry for the Imola fans and enthusiasts, we will try to find the right solution.
“Given the tight schedule in 2023, it is difficult to think we can make up for it this year, but we have a moral obligation to those who have worked so hard and we will see.”
Imola’s current contract to host Formula 1 runs out in 2025, but having now lost a year of that due to factors beyond its control, while it may not be at the forefront of the minds of circuit bosses in this moment, Domenicali confirmed he would be open to extending the circuit’s deal by a year to make up for the race it was unable to host this season – should a new date not be found.
“With the extension of the Imola contract in 2026, the date of this race could be recovered that season. It is an option on the table,” the Formula 1 CEO stated.