The much anticipated European Grand Prix had to be cancelled due to severe flooding in the Emilia Romagna region, including parts of the Imola circuit’s paddock. In the face of this crisis, Formula One (F1), the FIA, and the local authorities decided to postpone the event to ensure that infrastructure is restored and medical services are freed up to help the affected communities. The decision was made on Wednesday, as per F1‘s official statement. The governing body prioritizes safety for fans, teams, and personnel and believes it’s the right and responsible thing to do, given the situation faced by the towns and cities in the region. For contractual reasons, the wording of F1‘s press release mentions a decision “not to proceed” with this weekend’s event rather than any hint of a cancellation, opening the possibility of postponing the Grand Prix in Imola for a later date.
It’s crucial to note that Imola could be postponed, but it’s highly unlikely to find a spot in 2023’s calendar, given that the existing schedule is already stacked with no room for another race. The frantic June-July run before the summer break poses a problem since there’s only a one-week gap between the Austria-Britain and Hungary-Belgium races, creating an impossible quintuple header. Bringing forward the second part of the season by one week isn’t an option since factories will be closed for the summer shutdown and most staff will have already booked time off until the end of August.
Combining Imola with Monza in September could have been a logical emergency solution, but that would create a streak of five back-to-back races, starting with Zandvoort on the final weekend of August, followed by Singapore and Japan for four races in five weeks. With Singapore and Suzuka being twinned in September, there’s no alternative to avoiding a quadruple header with the following race in Qatar in early October. The triple-header of Austin, Mexico, and Brazil in late October and early November makes it impossible to slot Imola in before mid-November, when it starts getting too cold in Emilia Romagna. November’s season-ending duo of Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi preclude the vacant 11 November date, as that would then create six races on the trot.
Given that the 2023 season is already in advanced stages, it’s too late to organize a date change with one of the existing races. With the Imola event being called off due to force majeure, there’s likely to be little appetite to go above and beyond, with a simple ticket refund being the most likely outcome. Fans will have to wait until 2024 to visit the historic F1 venue for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the penultimate year of Imola’s contract that runs out at the end of 2025. However, it’s still conceivable that Imola’s current three-year deal, only signed last year, will move up by a year as a consequence of this week’s events.