Updated: May 29
Courtesy of Alessandro Serrano/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
F1 community rallies together to support Emilia-Romagna after deadly flooding
By: Megan Conroy
Edited by: Gabrielle Nordstrom
After a two-week break since the Miami Grand Prix, the Imola Grand Prix was set for Sunday, May 21, 2023. However, due to a dangerous amount of rainfall and flooding, Formula One cancelled the race weekend a few days prior. Per the New York Times, parts of the region hit the worst saw 20 inches of rain in about 36 hours. Rainfall caused damage to rivers, only increasing the damage. As of May 17, when the announcement was made, 5,000 people fled the region and their homes, and at least eight people lost their lives. Devastating pictures of the flooded town circulated social media, including the Imola paddock underwater.
“It is such a tragedy to see what has happened to Imola and Emilia-Romagna, the town and region that I grew up in,” said Stefano Domenicali, the chief executive of Formula 1. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the flooding and the families and communities affected.”
The decision to cancel the race was supported by many drivers, including Max Verstappen and the Ferrari team. George Russell of Mercedes and Lando Norris of Mclaren sent their support to the region in tweets. Mercedes-AMG tweeted a video on May 17th where Hamilton and Russell expressed their support of the cancellation, and their well-wishes for those affected by the devastation.
On the track, drivers fiercely compete against each other for podiums, points, and championships. However, off the track this weekend, the F1 community came together to bring awareness and support to the devastation in the Emilia-Romagna region. Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri spent Thursday assisting in the cleanup of a local village and received immense praise from Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari donated one million Euros to the Emilia-Romagna Region's Agency for Territorial Safety and Civil Protection.
Teams around the F1 circuit held charity events online over what should have been the Imola race weekend.
Redline, an associate of Red Bull and Max Verstappen, put on a virtual simulation race. 24 racers of varying motorsport backgrounds raced on the virtual circuit. Among the F1 drivers were Lando Norris and Max Verstappen. When paired together, Lando and Max cause significant chaos, and this virtual GP was no different. Even in a virtual sphere, Verstappen managed to dominate.The donation result from this stream is yet to be released.
Lando Norris put on his own charity stream on Twitch Friday afternoon. He promoted the same flood relief charity as AlphaTauri. Every 250 subscriptions on his stream gave a $1,000 donation to the flood relief efforts. His stream, featuring Verstappen, raised upwards of 7k for the charity.
Williams ESports also held a charity virtual race on Saturday featuring driver Alex Albon and more.
F1 racing is one of the few sports where on the track, even a teammate is competition. In the Drive to Survive documentary on Netflix, drivers sometimes say their teammate is their biggest competition. Despite the fierce competition, the heart of the sport and the drivers came to light once more over the past week with relief efforts and charity events.
As a fan, it was really heartwarming to see how the whole community, fans included, came together to support the Emilia-Romagna region. I, as I’m sure the drivers do too, look forward to the Imola Grand Prix in 2024.
If you would like to donate to the flood relief efforts, you can do so here.