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The grim reality that made Imola’s F1 weekend impossible to save



Of course, there have been races affected by rain, such as Spa in 2021, and extreme events like the typhoon that hit Suzuka on qualifying day in 2019, but abandoning an entire grand prix just days before the start of the race is unprecedented of.

But like the last non-COVID cancellation, the 2011 season opener in Bahrain was canceled because of the political situation in the country, and sometimes things happened off the track that made it impossible for anything to happen on the track.

red alert

From the moment the Emilia Romagna region was placed on a red alert weather warning on Monday night, there is likely to be some disruption to the Imola race.

However, long-term forecasts predict an improvement as the race weekend draws closer, with the hope that once the worst 24-hour weather passes, conditions will improve enough for F1 to move on.

However, the situation changed dramatically throughout Tuesday as localized rainfall far exceeded even the predicted worst-case scenario.

While some say 100mm of rain fell in the worst-affected areas that day, with an average of 150mm by the end of Wednesday, it was far worse than that.

As of lunchtime on Wednesday, 250 millimeters of rain had fallen in the past 36 hours in the mountains south of Imola, an important headwater for local rivers.

river alert

The torrential rain caused river levels to rise sharply throughout Tuesday. At the track, which sits beside the Santeno River, alarm bells were rung early on at how fast it was rising.

Just one meter high at 6am on Tuesday morning, the first warning level of two metres was reached just after 11am and there is no sign of slowing down.

As it approached the second flood warning level of 2.5 meters at 12:00 noon, it was decided to evacuate the track in case the river broke its banks and flooded the entire track.

The river level map below shows how quickly it’s rising, and how much higher the peak is than the recent floods that have affected the area.

Hydrographic Scale River Graphics

Hydrographic Scale River Graphics

Photography: unconfirmed

Even without the impact of the river, some areas of the circuit were flooded by Tuesday afternoon, with footage circulating on social media of the flooded F1 TV building.

When F1 staff were evacuated to their hotels, the situation got worse rather than better – as grim images emerged of the devastation affecting the area. Tens of thousands of people were affected as rivers breached their banks and submerged towns and villages.

Santerno peaked at 3.8 meters at 7pm as widespread flooding hit the area as officials warned of at least half a day of rain.

dial number

While Wednesday morning brought some respite as the rain eased slightly and water levels began to drop in Santerno, news of flooded homes and businesses, collapsed bridges and widespread damage elsewhere in the region was shocking.

It’s clear that things are now not moving towards a compromise solution to continue the game at all costs, but to cancel the entire game.

Conditions on the track also don’t look ideal, with the Santerno River having flowed into the F2 paddock next to the F1 and flooding it.

While there is theoretically room to squeeze F1 into two days, or even behind closed doors, the dire conditions around the track mean that even getting F1 personnel in and out is difficult enough.

The fact that taxis are submerged under water, local hotels are flooded, roads are closed, bridges have collapsed, the risk of landslides and the Imola track area is flooded with dirty water from Santerno means there is little reason to think the race can go ahead a practical point of view.

Not only is it impossible to envisage getting hundreds of thousands of spectators in and out every day, but managing it even for a few thousand of F1’s key workers presents significant challenges – and not without risks.

It is illogical to have thousands of extra vehicles clogging local roads at a time of extreme danger.

But perhaps more important than the purely practical ones are the ethical ones.

Because it’s not a good thing for F1 to continue hosting a sporting event that requires local emergency service resources when it’s clear there’s a dire emergency near the track that’s actually better placed elsewhere.

Ultimately, there was no debate between F1, the FIA ​​and the local authorities that it was decided that things could not go ahead and that in all respects the right thing to do was to call off the race.

Return in 2024

While the timing wasn’t ideal, with many team members already in Italy or on their way when the final announcement was made, it was only Friday morning with Australia 2020.

Imola’s cancellation at least means that emergency services can direct resources where they are needed more, helping those affected by the flooding.

2020 Australian Grand Prix canceled at 11th hour due to COVID-19 pandemic

2020 Australian Grand Prix canceled at 11th hour due to COVID-19 pandemic

Photograph: Dirk Klynsmith / motorsport pictures

The cancellation was by mutual agreement, which means the situation is also clear on the part of the promoter, as it does not face a financial loss for having to refund ticket holders and pay F1’s race hosting fees. The invocation of force majeure means that costs have not been paid.

While the compressed nature of the remainder of 2023 means that Imola is highly unlikely to return this year, there is no doubt that we will do everything we can to ensure the race in 2024 is a complete success – as long as nature allows.


Mercedes gets away with fine for Parc Ferme problem of Hamilton and Russell




Mercedes has been fined for violating parc fermé rules after the Spanish GP. This imposes the same sanction on the German racing stables as it did after the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc all committing the same crime.

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Sainz understands Ferrari’s limits: 'Not very competitive around here'




Despite Carlos Sainz’s solid qualifying performance at his home Grand Prix, starting from second, the Ferrari driver lacked the necessary race pace compared to Red Bull and Mercedes, resulting in him finishing second. Five finishers.

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Tsunoda slams “ridiculous” F1 Spanish GP penalty for Zhou defence




On lap 56 of 66 in a round dominated by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, Alfa Romeo driver Zhou used DRS to challenge Tsunoda for 9th on the outside entering Turn 1 right hand.

But as the corner transitioned into Turn 2, Chow appeared to shake his machine to the left, before rejoining the track several car lengths behind Kakuda into the escape lane.

The FIA ​​stewards reviewed the incident and ruled that Zhou was ahead at the apex of Turn 1 and therefore had the right to enter the race room.

As Tsunoda was found violating the International Sports Code, he received a 5-second penalty and dropped to 12th without points. Zhou, meanwhile, scored two points for ninth.

Asked by Autosport about his reaction, Tsunoda said: “It’s a ridiculous penalty and it feels really unfair.”

Recalling his take on events, Tsunoda thought Zhou had “pretended” to run out of space and that there was “definitely” room to keep the Alfa Romeo on track.

He said: “I left the room when I saw (Zhou Lai), I think he gave up early on.

“He went outside and pretended he was being forced out, but he didn’t. Sure enough, there was room outside.

“Obviously I put pressure on him, but there was still space, so I don’t understand why it was a penalty. It felt really unfair, really harsh.”

Yuki Tsunoda, Scuderia AlphaTauri in the paddock

Yuki Tsunoda, Scuderia AlphaTauri in the paddock

Photography: Jack Grant / motorsport pictures

Tsunoda said he was not aware of the penalty until it reached the finish line, and believes drivers and teams should be able to present their defense to the FIA ​​before the final ruling is given.

He said: “After I just heard the checkered flag, I was really happy. But after listening to that radio, I was really disappointed.

“At the same time, (I think) it’s a bit of a curiosity … it’s good to have some discussion with the FIA ​​because they gave five seconds without any discussion and the race was over.

“So, it didn’t feel fair … (I felt) exhausted and flat.”

In contrast, Zhou believes that this is a dunk penalty for Kakuda. He said: “It’s very simple.

“Going into Turn 1 and into the middle, I was in the lead and I actually gave a lot of space. Then I saw that he (and him) didn’t stop.

“(He tried to) release the brakes (but he) drove me away and I had to take avoidance action and (use) the escape route or we would collide.

“So, it was tricky after that because I had a lot of rubbish on my tyres. But in the end, I was able to stay in the right position behind him and regain the position.”

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