Juri Vips will remain in Red Bull’s junior roster despite being axed from his role as its Formula 1 team’s test and reserve driver.
Vips was suspended, investigated and then sacked after evidence emerged of him using a racial slur on a gaming livestream. He apologised for his “unacceptable language”.
The 21-year-old Estonian’s F1 test and reserve role at Red Bull was taken by fellow Red Bull junior Liam Lawson.
The wording of Red Bull’s statement about Vips only referred to his F1 role rather than the wider junior driver programme, though it was initially believed his whole relationship with Red Bull was over.
But Red Bull has now clarified that Vips remains a part of its junior team, saying that “we are supporting him as he transitions away from his role with Red Bull Racing”.
“We have cancelled our agreement with him and that will undoubtedly give him time for reflection,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Press Association.
“Everybody at some point deserves a second chance, if they can show that they have really learnt from their mistakes.
“He is a young guy, a young kid, and we will be supporting him – even though he has had his agreement terminated – from a mental health and educational perspective. Hopefully, he will learn from it.”
Horner had also described Red Bull’s decision to drop Vips from his F1 role as “obviously draconian but in line with the policy that we have” in a Sky interview.
Vips was able to retain his Formula 2 drive with Hitech GP – a seat that’s funded independent of Red Bull – though that led to F2 expressing its “surprise” at the team’s decision.
He’s currently racing in his second full-time F2 season as one of five Red Bull juniors in the championship.
Jehan Daruvala – who recently made his F1 test bow with McLaren – is the highest-placed of the quintet in fourth place with Lawson fifth and Vips seventh.
Vips made his F1 practice debut at the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year in place of Sergio Perez at Red Bull.