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Formula 1 cancel Italian race

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The Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix at Imola was not held last weekend due to extreme weather in the northern Italian region. At least three people died and thousands were evacuated from their homes as devastating floods hit the Emilia Romagna region. Transport Minister Matteo Salvini had earlier called for the race to be postponed “to concentrate all efforts on coping with the emergency”. Last year’s race drew a weekend crowd of 129,000.

The Imola circuit has the Santerno river flowing alongside it and while the paddock remained free of flooding, water levels were rising and surrounding areas including car parks and some access roads were waterlogged. Officials said at least eight people had died and thousands were evacuated from their homes in towns and cities across the region.

Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali, who was born in Imola and worked at the track in his youth before joining Ferrari, said the decision not to proceed was correct. “We need to ensure safety and not create extra burden for the authorities while they deal with this very awful situation,” he said.

The race was scheduled to be the sixth round of the season and the first in Europe. Ferrari joined other drivers and teams in supporting the cancellation. “Even though it’s our home race and therefore even more important to us, the main priority at the moment has to be the safety of all those living and working in the affected areas,” the Italian team said in a statement.

Mercedes seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton told fans on social media: “We wish we could be racing but this is definitely the right decision.”

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