Red Bull junior Juri Vips will race for Team Mugen in Super Formula this year, after cameoing for the Honda-powered team at the end of 2019.
The 19-year-old Estonian finished second in the Macau Grand Prix and fourth in FIA Formula 3 Championship last year, as well as being drafted in to replace fellow Red Bull junior Patricio O’Ward at Mugen in the SF season finale at Suzuka.
Vips finished 18th, a resulted compounded by a disastrous first ever pitstop, having shown strong pace prior to that.
He returned to the team for the two-day post-season rookie test at the same circuit, and was third fastest overall behind Team Dandelion Racing’s Nirei Fukuzumi and Naoki Yamamoto, the latter a two-time champion.
“When I came to the final round last year I was able to make progress throughout the three days, but this time [in the test] I was able to see it.” said Vips at the time.
“In this test, it was already OK from the start of the test. The times were really good and I became more confident about the car.
“There was a big difference from what I had experienced in Europe, so this test took a bit of time to get used to at first.
“Over the two days, I was confident in the car, so I think the time went up. The laps made me confident. Especially on courses like Suzuka, there is a secret to running fast.”
Prior to FIA F3, Vips spent one year in FIA European F3 and was also fourth in the standings, and was the ADAC Formula 4 champion in 2017.
Tomoki Nojiri, who took his first SF win since 2014 in the season finale, will remain as Vips’ Mugen team-mate.
“I just want to do my best [in 2020]. In that, you have to get used to various new things.
“The drivers who run all the time here are familiar with everything, including the circuit, but I don’t have it. It would be nice if you could get a time machine and experience what other drivers have experienced, but that is impossible.”
Pierre Gasly finished second in the 2017 SF standings in Mugen’s Red Bull-backed car, but Fukuzumi and Dan Ticktum failed to score when sharing the seat a year later.
Ticktum scored one point in three races in 2019 before being sacked in place of O’Ward, who scored three points before departing the seat to return to a career in IndyCar with McLaren.