This weekend’s scheduled 2023 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, of motor racing’s iconic Formula 1 (F1) series, has been called off due to flooding.

The race was due to take place on Sunday (May 21) at the Imola circuit, but there has been heavy rain and widespread flooding across northern Italy and, in particular, Emilia-Romagna over the last week. At least three people have died.

The Imola circuit was initially evacuated yesterday (May 16) because of a flooding risk from the Santerno River, which runs alongside the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

Then, this morning (May 17), the track was once again declared off-limits to F1 personnel, because of further heavy rain overnight. The announcement from F1 followed soon after.

The decision to cancel the race was taken following discussions between F1, motorsport’s FIA governing body, and local authorities.

In a statement today, F1 said: “Following discussions between Formula 1, the president of the FIA, the competent authorities including the relevant ministers, the president of the Automobile Club of Italy, the president of Emilia Romagna Region, the mayor of the city and the promoter, the decision has been taken not to proceed with the Grand Prix weekend in Imola.

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“The decision has been taken because it is not possible to safely hold the event for our fans, the teams, and our personnel, and it is the right and responsible thing to do given the situation faced by the towns and cities in the region. It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time.”In the last week,

Stefano Domenicali, F1’s president and chief executive, added: “It is such a tragedy to see what has happened to Imola and Emilia Romagna, the town and region that I grew up in, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the flooding and the families and communities affected.

"The decision that has been taken is the right one for everyone in the local communities and the F1 family as we need to ensure safety and not create extra burden for the authorities while they deal with this very awful situation.”

It is understood that F1 will now look at whether there is any possibility of simply postponing the race and finding a spot for it later in the ongoing 2023 season. However, with the calendar already packed, this appears an unlikely option.

If the race is canceled, F1 will no longer have a record number of grands prix this season. The schedule was for a record 23 events in 2023, but it now looks highly likely this number will be reduced to 22.

Of the 10 F1 teams, AlphaTauri and Ferrari are based in the affected region of northern Italy.

The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari secured a grand prix hosting extension through to 2025 in March last year.

The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix was set to be the sixth race of the ongoing season and would have been the first of three races on consecutive weekends.

F1's next race will now be held on May 28 in Monaco.

Image: Clive Mason/Getty Images