Behind the Tamburello corner, in which Formula 1 idol Ayrton Senna crashed in front of the world in 1994, the Santerno River has overflowed its banks threateningly. The paddock of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, where the set-up work for this weekend's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix was to be completed, was at a standstill on Wednesday. A short time later, it became clear what had already been feared: the race weekend in Imola would be cancelled.

This was announced by the racing series on Wednesday, preceded by talks with the FIA and regional authorities. "The decision was made because it is not possible to guarantee a safe event for fans, teams and for our staff," the statement said. It was also a "responsible" decision: "It would not be right to increase the pressure on local authorities and rescue workers in these difficult times."

Fatalities and missing persons

The Santerno River, which is close to the racetrack, has burst its banks, according to official figures from Wednesday morning, 14 rivers in Emilia-Romagna are flooding. Several roads have been closed, at least two people have been killed, and more people are missing. On the advice of the authorities, no one was supposed to come to the race track on Wednesday, after the pit lane and the TV area had been cleared the day before as a precautionary measure. Only in the night on Thursday the big rain should be over for the time being.

The cancellation is understandable: The Ferrari home race is a crowd puller, but the situation in the region is confusing, fire brigade and rescue forces are in constant use. In terms of the microcosm of Formula 1 alone, however, the safety of access roads, parking lots and grandstands would have to be guaranteed. Those responsible could not and did not want to do that. Previously, Italy's Transport Minister Matteo Salvini had already pleaded for a postponement. "We should dedicate ourselves to relief efforts," he said.

A cancellation due to weather conditions is a novelty in Formula 1. And yet it testifies to a learning effect after two laps behind the safety car in 2021 at Spa, Belgium, under the most adverse conditions – albeit far from a natural disaster – in order to contest a "race", at least formally. It is unclear when the race can be rescheduled. As the year progresses, the schedule is full, but there are still gaps.

The city of Faenza, where the factory of the Formula 1 racing team AlphaTauri is located, is also affected by the floods. He immediately called for help and set up a donation account. And Scuderia Ferrari showed "sympathy" with the "people of Emilia Romagna and the Marche who are struggling with the destruction caused by the heavy rains and floods."