F1 test driver Vips suspended as team investigates racial slur video

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Red Bull has suspended its Junior Team member Juri Vips after video emerged of him appearing to use a racial slur during a live stream.

Footage of the 21-year-old participating in a a game of Call of Duty appeared on social media today. The phrase “bitch n*****” is heard, following which some of the players respond “Juri”.

Among those Vips was playing with, who expressed surprise at his use of the term, was his fellow Red Bull Junior Team member and Formula 2 rival Liam Lawson.

Red Bull issued the following statement: “Red Bull Racing has suspended junior driver Juri Vips from all team duties with immediate effect, pending a full investigation into the incident.

“As an organisation we condemn abuse of any kind and have a zero-tolerance policy to racist language or behaviour within our organisation.”

Vips issued an apology for his use of an offensive term. “I wish to unreservedly apologise for the offensive language used during a live gaming stream earlier today,” he said.

“This language is entirely unacceptable and does not portray the values and principles that I hold. I deeply regret my actions and this is not the example I wish to set. I will co-operate with the investigation fully.”

Vips drove for Red Bull’s Formula 1 team in the first practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix last month. He has also driven for them in test sessions during 2020 and 2021.

He joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2018 ahead of the Macau Grand Prix. The native of Tallinn, Estonia won the German Formula 4 championship the year before. He raced in the Formula Regional European Championship and Formula 3 for Red Bull before moving into F2 full-time in 2021.

He was next due to compete in the F2 round at Silverstone supporting the British Grand Prix. Vips’ F2 team Hitech has been approached for comment.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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105 comments on “F1 test driver Vips suspended as team investigates racial slur video”

  1. The basic “Copy / Paste” apology doesn’t do much for his chances I would say.

    1. Yeah, doesn’t feel there is too much heart in it @nullapax

    2. Not one of those words is his. Sad.

  2. This is very sad, a promising career is potentially snuffed out because he said a nasty word.

    1. in a very public setting.

  3. Apparently playing CoD is the fastest way to end your racing career.

    Reply moderated
    1. Any others who’ve been a victim of COD?

      1. Dan Ticktum had his infamous “Latifi is poo” moment (the one that got him sacked from Williams) in a CoD lobby.

        Reply moderated
  4. Ohnoes. He said the word. Fire him. Lock him up and destroy his life.
    I’m sure no other driver has used similar slurs on or off track.
    /s

    The fact that he is a white male does not bode well for his chances.
    Regardless. A stupid thing to say. Ive also gotten angry at playing a multiplayer game but for some reason a racial slur has never been the first thing that came to my mind.

    1. Indeed. I have definitely blurted out the “C”-word on occasion, but not racial slurs.

      1. That depends entirely on where you grew up. Where I live, lots of kids use the n-word because it’s a funny English word they hear in TikTok videos. They don’t even know it’s supposed to be a racial slur. When a non-native English speaker blurts out this word, it’s probably not a Freudian slip of deeply rooted racist feelings. People don’t let out Freudian slips in another language than their own. They do blurt out words they hear a lot.

        1. Sorry but that is utter BX @krommenaas. First of all the word is taken as a racial slur in just about every western country (both in English AND in the national tongue) and in most Asian countries I know of as well as widely awknoledged as such all over south America. I am not sure how Africa sees it, but I would seriously doubt anyone, especially anyone not black themselves, would feel its normal to use it.

          And Vips has been in an international environment for long enough, this is not a 7 y.o. , which is also reflected in the immediate reaction of the other guys on the stream.

          Maybe a decade or rather 2 or more ago, it was more or less true that you could see things as you claim in many places, but that is (luckily) behind us now.

          1. The guys who react are English speaking. Vips is not. I can’t look into his mind, but I think it’s more likely that to him it’s a cool sounding word he picked up from Samuel L. Jackson movies and countless other examples, without understanding the weight the word has in Anglo-Saxon when used by a white person, than that he’s a racist. But I tend to assume the best in people rather than the worst.

          2. Well the n word with e’s in it is not racial slur in Estonian or even a dirty word. It has gathered a bad reputation and is not recommended to use, esp in English environment exactly for that reason. If anything then calling someone black (must) is offence as it is also synonyme for dirty/filthy. The culture in eastern Europe is a bit different as the Iron curtain prevented black people from entering and the English/American culture dominance is a newer thing.

          3. @bascb

            You are forgetting that it is not a swear word for African-Americans. Their rap music exports the use of this term in a non-negative way to many countries.

          4. @bascb No it isn’t! Answer me this… Why is it OK for a black European person to use n word but not white European person? European black population have nothing to do with American slave history.

    2. I’ve dropped all kind of F-bombs and C-bombs when playing online, safe in the knowledge I don’t use a microphone and there is obviously some kind of disassociation between the car weaving everywhere in front of me, and the fact that is a real person, and even if I know it is a real person – I know they can’t hear me. I mutter things I would never say to someones face.

      Like @justrhysism however, I’ve never uttered a racial slur, moments of frustration usually I resort to sarcasm. I really hope he doesn’t lose everything he’s worked for over this. He’s done something bad, but not unrepairable, a more sincere apology would probably help.

      I don’t think playing CoD is a window into the covert racists mind, I don’t think it’s a Freudian slip, I just think he’s lost in a moment and said something I’m sure he finds just as baffling. Hopefully it is something he can learn from, apologises and we move on from it. Before it escalates and he takes on some kind of ‘bad boy’ moniker.

  5. Poor form off the track as well as on it.

  6. Dumb thing to say but ultimately I don’t think there was any intention to be racist there – he was basically copying something that you hear every 5 minutes if you listen to rap music.

    It doesn’t make it ok and in his position, he’s beyond stupid to say something like that but I think it falls on the side of stupidity rather than him meaning any malice with his words. Hopefully he gets a chance to learn from it and become a better person.

    1. You are correct. Obviously we don’t know him personally, but if he does listen to rap often it’s bound to happen if he never knew the history of the word, which happens a lot with people who’s first language isn’t English or if you grew up in any country east of Germany.

      1. @BNK racing Native or non-native speaker is irrelevant & otherwise, everyone should get cleared based on this aspect, which would be double standard treatment.

        1. Bruno Verrari
          23rd June 2022, 17:08

          I respectfully, but strongly disagree.
          Let’s test an Englishan in Tallin, or Bucharest 🙈!

    2. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
      21st June 2022, 23:12

      Play stupid games…win stupid prizes.

      Reply moderated
    3. Context matters. Did he say this to a black person? Was he angry or just friendly banter? Was the other person offended?
      I hate the hypocrisy of everyone acting offended when that’s a word that gets used A LOT in private. Rarely used as a racial slur though.

      Still, however, it’s inexcusable for a public person to get caught saying something stupid like that. How much more ‘cancelling’ needs to happen before they realize they can’t say this things. The punishment will likely exceed the size of the crime many times over. But at the same time, I can’t feel a whole lot of empathy over such a moronic mistake. He is old enough to know better.

      I expect we’ll see the typical vapid profuse apology. Red Bull won’t want anything to do with him regardless. He will lose his drive and ruin or significantly damage his career permanently. Red bull loses, because Juri is a very promising talent. Juri loses. The sport loses because we won’t likely get to see him in F1. There are no winners. Unless what he said was truly racist, I think this is all a futile exercise of CYA by all corporations involved

      Reply moderated
    4. Dumb thing to say but ultimately I don’t think there was any intention to be racist there

      And you know this how?

      Make racist utterances, deal / live with the consequences. i hope he gets the book thrown at him.
      This whitewashing of “he didnt mean it”, “it’s the rap music” needs to stop. Everyone knows that this is wrong.

      1. It’s up there with the “he’s not American so he doesn’t know the true meaning of the word.” Yes he does.

        It’s super simple: use the hard n-word as a slur? You’re racist. Be better.

        1. So my grandfather is a racist if he does i think he would lauch at that when i am going to tell him that. (he is a 100% person of African decent)

          1. @macleod everyone that read my comment knows what was meant, you did too.

          2. @sjaakfoo – yes i did know what you meant but it’s a small line especially a person like me who has a family of different decents……. the term racist is not black and white it’s what you do with it focusing on a certain group is bad as my grandfather would say.

          3. @macleod If he means it as a slur, then yes he is.

            There are many “Uncle Toms” who wish they were a different race.

    5. Every rap album that uses such language carries the following logo:

      PARENTAL ADVISORY
      EXPLICIT LYRICS

      I’m pretty certain that as Juri has the intelligence to drive mind-blowingly complicated F1 and F2 cars, all the while taking detailed instructions from engineers, including being debriefed post-race in infinitesimal detail, then he understands that there’s “naughty words ‘n’ stuff” in rap music that he shouldn’t say!

  7. So, the b word and the n word were created by hip hop? Ok

    1. One of those words is common at the Westminster Dog Show. And both are quite common in hip hop.

    2. I am sure that came from the negroes so the slave trade era. But after it slowly was gone the hiphop brought it back.

      1. @macleod – I’m not sure where you’re from, but the word was never gone. It became less common with people who weren’t racist or at least did not want to appear to be racist. But the word was used plenty throughout history by many people, unfortunately.

        1. @hobo – I am from the Netherlands so i can understand your comment as in the States before 1970 was that word common used. So here it’s was not much of a issue as there were not much black people around if i have to believe my grandfather who came to the Netherlands before WWII there were some in the big cities as musici and the rest as sailor (like my grandfather) and he was alway recieved very nice as he was one of the few here.

          They were called zwarte mensen (black people) but later Negroes …. so there was a change after 1960 so it was kind of gone for a long time…. But that is what my grandfather says to me when i ask him about it.

  8. I don’t think he is a racist but he probably watched too many gaming channels on twitch. The language on these channels are very toxic!!

    1. And he listens to rap. When you hear both words in conjunction, you must have been listening to hip hop.

    2. @kavu – normally you pick these things from you closest parents and friends.

  9. As an American minority, I can see how the rap culture can influence young kids regardless of race. I truly believe that he never meant it in a racial derogatory way, but also that that phrase should never be used by anyone — especially a white male in a public setting.

    I think he deserves a suspension for the rest of the 2022 season and then a new start for 2023. TBH he was a good but never great driver and the RB academy pipeline is so deep that for everyone 1 racer lost there will be 2 to replace him. See you next year Juri.

    1. Nah. Fine him, require him to do some public service on race and equality, and move on. You are sadly mistaken if you think that’s an uncommon phrase.

    2. Why not remove the phrase from the rap culture too, isnt it self depreciating, self inflicting wound if that word pains a particular race.

      Reply moderated
  10. These kids are so unoriginal. They play all the same online games and behave like all other american kids online. Vips is Estonian, what are you doing? Cuss in your language.

  11. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
    21st June 2022, 23:14

    Gamer boys want to be black without paying the tax. Its all fun and games until…

    Reply moderated
  12. My memory is fuzzy but didn’t Red Bull keep Ticktum for a while after he was banned for a year??
    If that’s the case then any kind of punishment on Vips would be seen as hypocritical by them.

    1. Red Bull is also happy to keep Verstappen on after his repeated use of racial slurs.

      Whatever Red Bull does in this case, it won’t be based on some lofty principles.

    2. I mean, they have Helmut Marko in a prominent role in the team @mantresx and Mateschitz’ political interests in Austria also don’t make this look too convincing.

      I guess we must see it as a positive that even a team like that nowadays knows that this is not ok anymore and acts. On the other hand, I can see how what JW brings up above about the sheer depth of their driver pool and Vips not having the huge shine currently might have made it easier to do so.

    3. @mantresx

      didn’t Red Bull keep Ticktum for a while after he was banned for a year?

      Ticktum wasn’t a Red Bull junior when he was banned, he became one after returning from his ban.

  13. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    21st June 2022, 23:45

    *sigh*

    Kyle Larson did literally the exact same thing only two years ago, and it almost cost him his entire career. I seem to recall that that story got quite a bit of attention for quite a while afterwards, and I find it hard to believe that Juri Vips didn’t have internet back then. The whole “maybe he didn’t know what the word meant, or that he could expect severe backlash for saying it” argument doesn’t fly with me.

    Whether or not one agrees with the severity of the consequences is one thing. But it’s not unreasonable to expect an adult with basic proficiency in English and (presumably) an IQ within the normal range to know that saying the word isn’t a good idea. If Vips genuinely didn’t know, that’s on him.

    1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
      22nd June 2022, 0:03

      In summary, the whole situation is just … so stupid. So completely avoidable and so, so stupid.

    2. I was going to mention Kyle Larson as well. He was lucky Rick Hendrick took him in after his year-long, high visibilty suspension. Two years later Larson is now a Cup champion, a Top 5 talent, and major sponsors STILL won’t go near him. His main sponsor is his owner’s car dealership company.

      Vips doesn’t have the resume or confirmed talent that Larson had. With the deep bench at RBR from F1 to F3 they don’t NEED to keep him. Fumbling away a couple races this year doesn’t help. Maybe international sponsors are more forgiving than the US but I think the F1 dream for Vips is over.

      1. Most sponsors are international and Vips has national sponsors that dont care about social justice bs. So i doubt this will be an issue long term. People have said far worse things (Twitch streamer PewDiePie comes to mind) and Mel Gibson for his anti-jew slurs.

        1. YT personalities like that get their views (i.e. money) from kids. I don’t expect them to have the ethical or economic concerns that corporations have. And if you think Mel Gibson is in the exact same position as he was before all of his outbursts. He actually didn’t direct films for something like 10yrs.

    3. Thanks for this comment. It shouldn’t need repeating, but always glad when someone makes these very basic points that apparently difficult for so many to grasp.

  14. shouldn’t have said it, no one should ever say it

    but i wonder if he was black, would the situation be dealt with differently? would he be let off? if yes then serious questions need to be raised

    1. If he was black he probably wouldn’t be on the red bull team, so nope, probably wouldn’t have happened.

      Reply moderated
    2. No. They don’t need to be raised.

      Different circumstances often result in different outcomes. Grow up please.

  15. Electroball76
    22nd June 2022, 0:25

    I don’t know what’s more disappointing. The choice of language or the choice of game.
    Seriously though, isn’t that what online aliases are for? So people don’t know your real name when you go and say something regrettable?
    And remember kids, graphic violence is ok as long as you don’t use any naughty words.

    1. Electroball76
      22nd June 2022, 0:30

      My bad. Re-reading it, it sounds like it was his team mates that threw him under the Spice Bus by calling him out and posting footage?
      That’s what friends are for I guess

      1. Jeez, with friends like that…

        Reply moderated
      2. They were playing online in a game that was streamed online (I think it was streamed on Liam Lawsons channel), so it was a public game

  16. NeverElectric
    22nd June 2022, 0:42

    Overreaction.
    No reason to use such stupid words, but they’re used pretty much everywhere in pop culture today.

    Who wasn’t young and stupid once?
    Learnt his lesson, obviously won’t do it again, move on.

    Reply moderated
    1. I guess I’m glad this little conversation is only between the two of you. It’s disappointing to see how many people think this is fine.

  17. I like how he or his lawyer carefully never admit to him saying it. I wish RB would take the responsibility then if Vips won’t and fire him. There is no need for an investigation since these pimply effete boys seem to be a dime a dozen in the F1 ladder.

  18. Isn’t embarrassment enough when someone says something foolish like this? I thought it was just American culture that had been getting too soft, where everyone has to be protected from being offended. Now Red Bull in GB? Suspension is not the right answer regardless of how many drivers they have waiting in the wings. I don’t exactly feel sorry for him but this is just silly.

  19. I am mixed race person that has (mostly in the dim and distant past) been subject to offensive racial attitudes and actions in my time (Not that I am about to suggest that my personal experiences are any sort of absolute gauge or comparable to what I know are common and much worse abuses, however I am just giving context to my comment).

    However I personally feel issues like this are in that old category of political correctness going to far. Of course as a representative of a major organisation people need to be held responsible for negative attitudes and portrayals, but an offhand comment does not necessarily indicate any deep seated racism. Nor does it provide us with any insight into the individuals true beliefs and attitudes. For all we know the guy may have actively done more for equality and inclusion than many others. And he is only a young guy. If I am honest (and it’s just a personal view) I would barely consider it newsworthy if it were not for the suspension).

    To be fair I do note the initial actions are subject to investigation, although I still see this as a bit of a guilty until proven innocent type of situation. Of course I understand that he is guilty of saying what he said, but again in isolation I don’t see the comment as such a major issue worthy of more than a reprimand or warning. To be fair, perhaps there are other factors we are unaware of that justify the suspension in advance of the investigations findings. But if not, just tell him he’s an idiot an move on.

    (Sorry, didn’t mean it to turn into such a long rant, and it is just an opinion.)

    Reply moderated
  20. I find Marko’s double standard disturbing. What about when Max was calling everyone a Mon@&lian in 2020 was that not racist??

    Max Verstappen never gets in trouble for anything.

    1. Not just Marko. Even the FIA or F1 management did nothing. The golden boy must be protected at all costs! As Mongolia is not a lucrative market, it’s ok to throw racial slurs at them without any repercussions it seems…

      Reply moderated
    2. @Pat That isn’t a racial slur by definition.

      1. @jerejj That is not at all correct, it is a racial slur. It’s based on comparing the appearance of central asian people with people with Down’s Sydrome. It’s derogatory to both groups but is absolutely, 100% racial in its origin.

        1. @hazelsouthwell Yes, but his specific reference was a Dutch word (mongool for idiot) rather than the country or Down’s Syndrome.

          Reply moderated
          1. @jerejj it’s the same word, it also colloquially meant that to teenagers in Britain in the early 00s. It was extremely wrong that it was normalised then and it remains wrong that it’s normalised in Dutch.

          2. A person somewhere
            22nd June 2022, 16:26

            (Reply to Hazel’s reply)*

            Speaking as someone who was a teenager in Britain in 90s, it was well established back then too.

            Oh poop, I guess I revealed where the “somewhere” is ;)

            * Why can’t we reply (or report!) comments beyond 3 levels of nesting? It’s a rather silly limitation.

          3. Davethechicken
            24th June 2022, 21:39

            @Jere He was speaking in English when he said it publicly on both occasions. Remember he was already reprimanded by the FIA in 2017about it. He also responded that it was “not my problem” after he was pulled up on it after insulting Stroll. Even though in 2017 any doubt about the racial slur was made crystal clear to him by the FIA punishment he received.

    3. Pat I will never condone what Max said and what I am about to say in no way is meant to support the terrible slur Max made, but he did say it over his car radio to whoever listens on his team, and the only reason it went public is because F1 chose to do that. That is different from Vips doing this on live stream. Both drivers are very wrong for what they said, but first of all no Max doesn’t go around ‘calling everyone a bleep bleep bleep.’

      It was a terrible heat of the moment comment that I hope and expect he has learned from, as do I hope Vips learns from this too. Even reading my own words here it sounds like I am trying to justify Max’s slur here and I am not. Just wanted to point out that there is no need for rhetoric such as a claim of him calling everyone a such and such, especially publicly as that paints an inaccurate picture. He was complaining on his radio and not even to the one that got his goat that day. I do hope he never ever uses that slur even in that (private-ish) way again and I’m glad he didn’t say it right to the person towards which he was briefly miffed. Vips to me said it right to the persons face, being during a live stream. As well, for all we know Max may had gotten a stern talking to by his team and reminded any public derogatory comments will not be tolerated, and that needs to be assumed to include radio communication.

      1. Davethechicken
        24th June 2022, 21:19

        @Robbie, the fact that Max was already reprimanded by the FIA for using the exact same term regards a race steward not long before he called Stroll kind of blows the “heat of the moment” argument out of the water. Also as well as his “not my problem” statements afterwards regards offense obviously caused.

  21. Maybe I’m being cynical here, but Red Bull Academy is totally crowded and Vips just made an eventual decision even easier.

    1. Yeah, that is likely to have made it easier for RB to decide on this @mxmxd, @jerejj

  22. The word is said by black people. its still offensive when it is said by white people. Maybe send him for some course that deals with this type of stuff.

  23. Typical Red Bull hypocrisy. Do this to a driver for a racial slur, but where were the principles and morality when Verstappen was calling people “mong*ls” and “re*ards”? Abhorrent team.

    1. @jazz The difference is, those words aren’t racial slurs.

      1. @jerejj

        The obsolete medical terms Mongolian idiocy and Mongolism referred to a specific type of mental deficiency, associated with the genetic disorder now known as Down syndrome. The obsolete term for a person with this syndrome was Mongolian idiot.

        In the 21st century, these terms are no longer used as medical terminology, deemed an unacceptable, offensive and misleading description of those with Down’s syndrome.[1] The terminology change was brought about both by scientific and medical experts,[2] as well as people of Asian ancestry,[2] including those from Mongolia.

        Reply moderated
      2. @jerejj The slur mongol is most definitely racially charged. I don’t know if John Down himself had such intentions when he drew parallels between people with the syndrome named after him and the (appearance of) Mongols (that is, people from the Asian steppes more generally that the current nation state), but it has been used as such ever since and become linked to anti-Asian racism that was rife in the 19th and 20th century. In Dutch, which Verstappen knows all too well, calling someone a mongol is absolutely intended to imply limited intellectual capacities.

        Reply moderated
        1. The Dutch have a long history of racial insensitivity and especially normalized racial slurs in common language that are only recently started to be addressed (and even then, it’s still at the stage of heavy resistance from the majority of caucasian populace), so it’s really no surprise to anyone paying attention that the word has persisted this long without people even realizing the racial implications.

          That said, once you know, and once it’s been pointed out to you, you need to do better. Especially so as a public figure. Far as I can gather, Max has been doing better and has stuck to more conventional swearing ever since.

          1. Davethechicken
            24th June 2022, 21:23

            Max has used this term more than once. Gary Connolly race steward at US GP was called the same by Max in 2017. The argument that racism in Holland is common and therefore understandable for Max is frankly ridiculous.

        2. MichaelN, the title that John Down gave to the paper where he presented the first medical description of that condition was called “Observations on an Ethnic Classification of Idiots”.

          If the title itself wasn’t enough of a hint, John Down went on to explicitly categorise those who have what is now termed Down’s syndrome as “belonging to the Mongolian family” – the original paper shows that John Down was quite clearly and intentionally drawing on racial stereotypes for his work and that it was intended to be a highly derogatory comparison.

          Reply moderated
      3. They are still slurs and their use is abhorrent.

    2. What a BS when Verstappen used those words he was also reprimanded by the team. So let’s wait for the investigation and than judge

    3. @jazz I will never condone Max’s racial slur but I think it is important to be accurate that it, as far as we know, was a one-off that he may well have been sternly taught a lesson on, and it was not even proclaimed directly to the person to whom he was miffed, but to his fellow radio participants on the team. And offered to us by F1’s choosing.

      Just wanted to point out your choice or wording ‘was calling people’ is taking some license to make your point. It was one person, it was not stated directly to that person, and it was wrong.

      1. And offered to us by F1’s choosing.

        Because he said it. Regardless of the company, regardless of the intention, he said it. He’s responsible, no-one else.

      2. @robbie he has used that insult more than once – asides from the time he hurled that insult at Stroll, he also directed that same insult at Gary Connelly for being part of the steward panel that penalised him at the 2017 US GP.

        In that instance, he was also making it very public by directing those insults at Connelly during a TV interview – so, you can’t claim that it was one off behaviour, and the idea that he’s “been sternly taught a lesson on” also seems questionable if he continued to use that insult.

  24. Stupid for him to risk his stay in the RB program & consequently possibly his entire racing career over a game.

  25. Busted.

    Reply moderated
  26. dont know the context in which he said it, but I need to point out that in most post Soviet countries the N word is generally not offensive, and is used to describe a black person. however, having been in the English speaking environment for so many years, he should’ve probably known it’s not a great word to use nowadays. still, would be a shame if this hurts his career.

  27. playstation361
    25th June 2022, 5:04

    Stupid fellow.

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