Back in late June and early July, there was a great upheaval in the Formula 1 paddock regarding racist slurs used by two personalities in Motorsport – Nelson Piquet, and Red Bull junior, Juri Vips. Piquet had done so in a podcast last year, while Vips had used the racial slurs during a stream.
Piquet, per reports, has been banned from the Formula 1 paddock. On the other hand, Juri Vips was dropped as reserve driver of Red Bull and is no longer a part of the junior team either, but he is still racing at Hitech in Formula 2. There was great pressure on Red Bull to condemn Piquet – but they chose not to, feeling that their actions with Vips gave a good note of their stand instead.
Vips was next in line for promotion into a Formula 1 seat, but that role will likely have to be taken up by a different driver now, and there are a few candidates: Liam Lawson, currently Red Bull’s test and reserve driver, and Prema teammates, Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala. But this is not an ideal situation, and Helmut Marko feels that the English media had forced Red Bull’s hand.
Helmut Marko: “I personally think he (Vips) is (only) 21 and has apologized”
In an interview with Motorsport, where Helmut Marko discussed a variety of topics such as Max Verstappen, the championship battle, and sister team AlphaTauri, he also touched upon the issue of Juri Vips, and if Red Bull had any choice to sack him or not. Marko certainly does not think that they did.
Marko said that the English media had forced Red Bull’s hand: “The English media has unleashed such a sh*tstorm that Red Bull Racing had no choice but to remove him from office. I personally think: he is 21 years old and has apologized.”
He added: “What bothers me is that it happened during a stupid video game because they have nothing better to do in the afternoon. I don’t understand how you can do that for more than two minutes, but hey, that’s the youth. I can’t do anything with it. Max does sim racing as well.”
Back in 2020, Max Verstappen had called Lance Stroll a ‘mongoloid’ over the team radio. When asked if the incidents and situations were comparable, Marko said: “You can’t compare that. It is also about the entire development of both as individuals. Max has always been on the edge in this area, and of course, the pressure from the media and sponsors at Vips was so great that we had to take action.”
On who may be the person to replace Vips, Marko pointed towards Dennis Hauger but added that nothing is fixed: “Dennis Hauger has dominated Formula 3 in an incredible way. He now has ups and downs in Formula 2, he is not consistent. Performance and nothing else is the deciding factor. That is changeable.”
Pierre Gasly may actually leave the Red Bull family in a few years, or even next year unless a seat is freed up at the senior team. Certainly, he has higher ambitions than to compete in the midfield. It will be interesting to see who replaces him at AlphaTauri and if Yuki Tsunoda is able to keep his seat as well.