Red Bull suspends F2 race winner for racial slur

Juri Vips

Red Bull has suspended Formula 2 racer Juri Vips from its junior programme with immediate effect.

The move comes after the Estonian allegedly uttered a racial slur during a Twitch live stream, with the Austrian drinks company quick to respond.

“Red Bull Racing has suspended junior driver Juri Vips from all team duties with immediate effect, pending a full investigation into the incident,” a statement from the team announced.

“As an organisation, we condemn abuse or any kind and have a zero-tolerance policy to racist language or behaviour within our organisation.”

The comment was allegedly made while Vips was playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with fellow F2 racer Liam Lawson, who was streaming the game.

“I wish to unreservedly apologise for the offensive language used during a live gaming stream earlier today,” Vips wrote on Instagram.

“This language is entirely unacceptable and does not portray the values and principles that I hold.

“I deeply regret my actions and this is not the example I wish to set.

“I will cooperate with the investigation fully.”

Vips is this season driving for Hitech in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, where he has twice crashed out while leading.

That includes the most recent race in Azerbaijan, when he tagged the wall in the Castle section in the dying minutes of the Feature race.

At the Spanish Grand Prix last month, the 21-year-old stepped into Sergio Perez’s car for Free Practice 1.

That opportunity was the result of rules which mandate teams sport a rookie driver twice during the opening practice session of a grand prix over the course of the 2022 season.

Vips joined the Red Bull programme in 2018, finishing fourth in that year’s Formula 3 European Championship.

The following year he graduated to the FIA Formula 3 Championship, taking three wins en route to fourth in a competition won by Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman.

He made a series of F2 appearances in 2020 with DAMS, finishing third in Mugello, before joining Hitech for a full campaign last year.

That saw him pick up two of the three wins available in Azerbaijan, along with four other podiums, to end the year sixth in the standings.

While his performances in 2022 have been promising, he’s largely under-delivered.

In Imola, he crashed out while leading the Feature race, as he did in Azerbaijan, though has picked up three podiums in the opening 12 races.

However, he is just one of a raft of juniors Red Bull has in the F1 feeder category, with Jehan Daruvala, Liam Lawson, and Dennis Hauger also on the Austrian company’s books.

Daruvala is current in the midst of a two-day test with McLaren at the wheel of its 2021-spec machine.

The Formula 2 season continues in support of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix on July 1-3, though whether Vips will compete is currently unknown.

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