F1 forced to evacuate Imola track due to risk of ‘floods and landslides’

F1 Preview: A Lap Of The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

F1 personnel have been forced to evacuate the Imola circuit just days before this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The evacuation was due to the risk of flooding with severe weather warnings in place for the race.

Journalist Chris Medland revealed details of the incident on social media on Tuesday afternoon. However, he stressed workers were confident they would be given the all-clear to return to the track sooner rather than later. 

But, the situation could get even worse in the coming hours with a red alert – the highest possible warning – issued for Wednesday. Experts have warned this could lead to heavy floods and even landslides in the area in the run-up to the race.

The Met Office shows rain is expected to fall until Thursday but is likely to return at the weekend. They claim there is up to a 60 per cent chance of showers in nearby Bologna on Saturday ahead of qualifying. 

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They also stress there is a 50 per cent chance of wet weather for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Meterologist Michele Salmi, formerly a forecaster for F1, raised fears about the Grand Prix on Tuesday afternoon.

He raised fears over the Santerno river which runs next to the Imola circuit and which could prove a major obstacle for F1 chiefs over the weekend. Salmi tweeted: “The Santerno river runs next to the Pit Lane of the @autodromoimola and @ArpaER has a sensor right at the entrance of the Autodromo.

“The river has already reached the 2nd alert level (orange, max. is 3) and this flood already looks much worse compared to the one from two weeks ago.

“The problem is what is coming next. Models agree on 50-100 mm during the next 24h in the #Imola region, but with peaks > 100 mm in the Apennines, where the Santerno river comes from. A flood exceeding level 3 is in sight, with lower areas of the @autodromoimola at risk as well.”

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According to Sky Italia, local schools near Bologna and Ravenna, near AlphaTauri’s Faenza base, did not open on Tuesday with many families being forced to leave their homes. 

However, despite the threats of heavy rain, F1 bosses feel there are no specific circumstances to consider. It is hoped the worst of the conditions will be limited to Tuesday and Wednesday and will improve in time for action to begin on track on Friday.

The Emilia Romagna region is still recovering from severe flooding which plagued the region at the start of the month. Two people tragically died as a result of the floods which left homes and communities destroyed.

The damage to the local area is expected to cost around £870million (€1billion) to repair. 

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