Red Bull junior driver Jüri Vips has potentially destroyed his entire racing career by dropping the n-bomb during a live stream.
Red Bull Racing has suspended the 20-year-old Estonian as they investigate an incident where he appeared to make the racial slur during a Twitch stream, where he was playing Call of Duty alongside fellow Red Bull junior team member, 20-year-old New Zealander Liam Lawson.
Red Bull has issued a statement where they emphasise “as an organisation, we condemn abuse of any kind and have a zero-tolerance policy to racist language or behaviour”. Vips has also taken to Instagram to make a public apology.
It’s an unfortunate incident for many reasons. Obviously, Vips ought to be punished for using the n-word like this; it’s a vile slur. At the same time, this might have scuppered Vips’ hopes of a Formula 1 career, which would be a shame.
Vips, who was the 2017 ADAC Formula 4 champion and currently competes in Formula 2 (where he’s netted a few wins and podiums), has long been touted as a future Formula 1 star. He’s currently one of the reserve drivers for Red Bull’s 2022 F1 campaign and even made his F1 free practice debut at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix, taking Sergio Pérez’s place.
But knowing how hard it is to get a seat in the highest tier of international motorsport – and how particularly ruthless Red Bull is with its juniors – this relatively minor slip-up could seriously torpedo his hopes at an F1 drive. Red Bull has shown time and time again it doesn’t need much of an excuse…
This is not the first time a young gun has self-destructed their career thanks to dumb comments made online. 23-year-old British racer Dan Ticktum, who currently competes in Formula E, got released from his Williams Driver Academy contract after calling current Williams F1 competitor Nicholas Latifi “poo” during a Twitch stream last year.
Controversial 23-year-old Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, who raced for Haas last year, almost ruined his chance at F1 after posting an Instagram story in 2020 in which he appeared to inappropriately grope a woman’s breasts, leading to major fan outrage and the hashtag #WeSayNoToMazepin to trend on Twitter. In the end, he still got to race in 2021… Until he got booted from the team in light of his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Streaming and being ‘always online’ is undoubtedly an important part of being a modern (and marketable) racing driver – but these young guns have got to remember that just because you can drive fast, doesn’t mean you can be fast and loose online.