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Imola remains a no-go zone for F1 personnel as flood threat remains

Formula 1 personnel have been told to stay away from the Imola circuit for now, as local authorities continue to assess the risk of flooding at the track.

A view of the wet track

Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

On what should have been a critical set up day for teams ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the pits and paddock will instead be left empty as preparations are derailed by the unprecedented weather situation in Italy.

Multiple sources from teams have revealed that they have been requested by authorities not to travel to the Imola circuit while the ongoing situation is assessed.

Intense downpours have triggered widespread flooding, and the Emilia Romagna region remains under a red weather alert until at least Wednesday evening.

While water levels of the river by the Imola track have begun to subside after exceeding the red flood level limit late on Tuesday night, there still remain problems at the venue.

Several areas of the track have been under water, including the F1 television compound. And while the F1 pits and paddock have escaped the worst of it for now, images circulating on social media showed the support paddock has flooded.

There were suggestions on social media on Tuesday night that the Alpine team had been forced to leave its hotel in Imola because of the floods, but this has been dismissed by the team.

A spokesman said: “A couple of members from our set-up crew have had to move hotel in Imola due to the adverse weather. The main team (mechanics, engineers) are in a different hotel in a nearby town and are not impacted.”

Officials from F1, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and regional authorities were meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss how best to respond to the difficult situation around Imola, and what to do about this weekend’s race.

An update is expected later on Wednesday.

A view of the wet track

A view of the wet track

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

With conditions set to improve from Thursday, there remains a high likelihood that the track action can go ahead with little disruption.

However, the biggest issue will be in dealing with the infrastructure around the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, with many roads around the venue closed due to localised flooding.

A bumper crowd expected for the first European race of the season will likely put a strain on nearby facilities and authorities could face a challenge in getting people in and out.

There are a range of possibilities that could be taken, which go from pushing on with no changes to the schedule and organisation, to cutting back on the numbers allowed in, or to compressing the weekend timetable to give the venue more breathing space to be prepared.

F1 teams had already lost half a day of setting up work on Tuesday when they were told to leave the track, and the loss of Wednesday will put them even further behind.

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