Axed Red Bull junior retained by F2 team

Jessica Thompson

Juri Vips, the driver cut from Red Bull’s driver programme for using a racial slur during a livestream, will continue racing in Formula 2 after his Hitech team said it wanted to provide the Estonian “the chance to redeem himself”.

Formula 2 has reacted to the decision with dismay, saying it is “not one we would have taken”.

Vips was cut by Red Bull on Tuesday after an internal investigation, having initially been suspended on June 22.

That means Vips has lost his main financial backer and his most likely route to Formula One with a company renowned for promoting junior drivers through the ranks.

But Hitech has not followed suit with his F2 race contract, saying it wants Vips “to demonstrate, through his actions, the type of person he is”.

Hitech boss Oliver Oakes said the loss of the Red Bull backing was a sufficient punishment.

“Hitech GP employs an inclusive workforce and has never condoned racism or offensive behaviour in any forms,” he said. “That said, if we live in a society where no one can make a mistake, then genuinely apologise, have the chance for redemption and learn from it, what does it say about society?

“I don’t know why he said what he said. I don’t know why he was playing and streaming [Call of Duty] at that time of day. Certainly, there are things that would have been far more beneficial for his career!

“What I do know is that having his contract terminated by Red Bull as result of his actions is a crushing experience for him, a deservedly severe punishment. The reality is there will not be unanimous agreement whether that punishment is sufficient, and that is totally understandable.”

Hitech’s decision means Vips will race at Silverstone this weekend at the F2 races that support Formula One’s British Grand Prix.

F2 released a statement after Hitech’s announcement saying: “Following the recent incident involving Jüri Vips, F2 would like to reaffirm that the use of racist or discriminatory language cannot be tolerated in any environment.

“Hitech Grand Prix’s decision today is surprising and not one we would have taken. We will monitor the situation carefully with them to ensure that such behaviour is properly addressed.”

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