Formula 2 driver, Jüri Vips represents the Hitech team, a subsidiary of Red Bull Formula 1. He is also the reserve driver for the Austrian team in F1. But for the 21 year old Estonian, a controversy has just plunged his young career into question with Vips is in the middle of a racism controversy. Forcing Red Bull to take a radical decision in response.
With Max Verstappen’s F1 victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull had a rather glorious weekend. But just a few days later, the sky darkened over the Austrian team and its reserve driver, Jüri Vips. The latter is currently working in Formula 2 with the Hitech team. But now the 21 year old Estonian is involved in a racism controversy.
During a live chat on Twitch with friends, Jüri Vips slipped up by using the word “nigger”, a term considered racist for most black people, certainly when a white person utters it. Jüri Vips is now at the heart of the controversy and faced with the magnitude of this case as Red Bull was forced to react quickly with a very strong decision.
In a press release, the team announced the suspension of its driver stating:
“Red Bull Racing has suspended junior driver Jüri Vips from all duties with immediate effect, pending a full investigation into the incident. As an organisation, we condemn abuse of any kind and have a zero tolerance policy for racist comments or behaviour against our organisation,” the statement read.
But this is not the only thing the Estonian did wrong, as during the same live show, when asked to wear a pink cap, he said: “It’s gay”.
“We condemn abuse of any kind and have a zero tolerance policy” reacts Red Bull.
For his part, Jüri Vips apologised for his inappropriate comments. On his Instagram account, the 21-year-old posted the following message:
“I want to apologise unreservedly for the offensive language used during a live stream. This language is totally unacceptable and does not reflect the values and principles I stand for. I deeply regret my actions and this is not the example I wish to set. I will cooperate fully during the investigation.”
Oliver Oakes, boss of Jüri Vips’ team Hitech, also reacted to his driver’s slip-up. Speaking to Motorsport, he said: “I am shocked and dismayed to learn of this incident. The comments made by Jüri are offensive and do not reflect the inclusive values of Hitech. Like everyone else, I heard the news an hour ago – the video and the suspension of Red Bull with an investigation to follow.”
It remains to be seen what the results of this investigation will be and what decisions Red Bull will make as Jüri Vips is due to contest the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 3 July. Will he be present at this event? His career is likely to take a certain hit and it is not certain that we will see him at the wheel of a Formula 1 car…