REVEALED: Hosts of F1’s cancelled Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix WON’T have to pay a fee of up to £20m after it was abandoned due to killer floods in Imola
- This weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has been called off due to flooding
- The F1 calendar will most likely drop to 22 races amid fears of a packed schedule
- Formula One Group will pick up the the £20m bill for the cancellation of the race
Formula One Group (F1G) will themselves pick up the bill for the cancellation of Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, by not even asking the circuit for the hosting fee of up to £20million.
A source close to the situation told Mail Sport: ‘Nobody wants to bankrupt anyone.’
While anything between the estimated £15m and £20m fee is a significant amount for F1G to miss out on, it is less than a third of the cash paid by venues such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia as new ‘jewels’ of the £2billion-a-year sport.
Even after Imola was called off on Wednesday as terrible rain left the region prone to landslides and parts of Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari flooded, the season is still a bursting 22 races long.
Local organisers will refund ticket prices to fans, but this outlay is offset by F1G’s decision not to demand the fee.
This weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled due to extreme rain in Imola, Italy
Formula One Group (F1G) will pick up the bill and won’t ask the circuit for the £20m hosting fee
The race was cancelled after Stefano Domenicali, F1’s chief executive, thought it would be a bad look for his plutocratic sport to play on in such grim circumstances
It is the second time in recent years that a race has been cancelled at the 11th hour. The other was the 2020 Australian Grand Prix, which fell victim to Covid after the travelling circus of some 2,000 people had flown Down Under. That was because one McLaren mechanic tested positive for Covid, and only a small minority of those there thought it responsible to press head in those febrile days as the world locked down. At issue then was a fee closer to £50m.
This time the danger around is clear. Two people died earlier in the month and hundreds have been evacuated from their houses.
It is understood that Stefano Domenicali, F1’s chief executive who grew up in the region and worked in the Imola car park as a boy directing Bernie Ecclestone to his space, thought it would be a bad look for his plutocratic sport to play on in such grim circumstances.
And what if someone had been swept away while walking to the race by the adjacent and swollen Santerno river? Who would have been liable?
Qatar Airways, who pay up to £50m as one of F1’s global partners and were due to be title sponsors of the race, will be offered further exposure during the season to compensate.
The TV rights deals are not impacted because, at 22 races, F1G, who are owned by American conglomerate Liberty Media, are well above the required threshold to receive full payment for the season.
Imola was evacuated on Tuesday due to flood risks just days before the scheduled Grand Prix
A picture shared on Twitter today (left) showed the waters of the Santerno rising dangerously close to the edge of the famed circuit – but the area has seen flooding throughout May (right)
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