Hitech Grand Prix has retained Juri Vips in its Formula 2 team despite his recent use of a racial slur, a decision which the championship has described as “surprising”.
Red Bull initially suspended Vips from its junior programme, following the revelation of the offending comment during a Twitch live stream, before ultimately terminating his contract as its Formula 1 test and reserve driver.
However, he will continue to compete in the FIA F2 Championship, Hitech has announced in a statement entitled, “Juri Vips to complete his F2 season with Hitech, providing him with the opportunity to redeem himself.”
Team boss Oliver Oakes said the matter had been debated, but it was decided that the 21-year-old should be given a chance to learn from his mistake, and that the loss of his Red Bull programme was “a deservedly severe punishment.”
In a candid comment which formed the entirety of said statement, Oakes explained, “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.
“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 a 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 Juri 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.
“Finally, the events of the last few days have cast a shadow over what should have been a fantastic home Grand Prix on Hitech’s doorstep with our Formula 2 and Formula 3 teams competing at Silverstone.
“Therefore, Hitech will be making no further comments on this matter.”
Formula 2, however, holds a rather different position.
A statement from the championship read, “Following the recent incident with Juri Vips, F2 would like to reaffirm that the use of racist of discriminatory language cannot be tolerated in any environment.
“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.”
The Vips matter coincides with a separate racism controversy involving Nelson Piquet.
The three-time world drivers’ champion was accused of a slur against Lewis Hamilton after comments which he made last November surfaced in recent days.
Piquet apologised for his “ill thought out” remarks but also claimed that some reported translations of the offending word were misleading.