Juri Vips will continue to race in Formula 2 with Hitech despite being dropped by Red Bull after using a racial slur during a live gaming stream.
After investigating the incident, Red Bull Racing terminated Vips’s contract as its test and reserve driver on Tuesday.
Hitech however will allow him to continue competing in F2, team boss Oliver Oakes confirmed in a lengthy statement issued on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s races at Silverstone.
“I have made the decision for Juri to keep his F2 seat with Hitech for the remainder of the season, a decision we have seriously debated,” Oakes said. “Allowing him to complete his season with Hitech is an opportunity for him to demonstrate, through his actions, the type of person he is. I have made it clear that I think the language used was totally unacceptable, but I choose to give him the chance to redeem himself…
“Hitech GP employs an inclusive work force and has never condoned racism or offensive behaviour in any forms. 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.
“My own view is that no apologies or words alone are enough to mend the damage done. By allowing him to keep racing with Hitech, we are giving luri the opportunity to demonstrate genuine and sincere remorse for his future actions. He must now grasp every opportunity to do so. He needs to make lasting changes and not just short-term virtue-signalling comments.
“While this may not satisfy everyone, I believe we all deserve a second chance in life, but never a third. Juri’s self-respect, his reputation and his career are now firmly in his hands.”
Despite being a member of its junior team, Vips has raced without Red Bull branding on his car this year, with his seat understood to have been funded from elsewhere.
F2 itself issued a statement in response to say it found Hitech’s decision “surprising”.
“Following the recent incident involving Juri Vips, F2 would like to reaffirm that the use of racist or discriminatory language cannot be tolerated in any environment,” it said.
“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.”