Red Bull drop Vips from Junior Team over use of racial slur

2022 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Red Bull has dropped Juri Vips from its Junior Team following its investigation into his use of a racial slur during a live stream last week.

Vips, 21, was the team’s official test and reserve driver. He participated in the first practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix for the team alongside Max Verstappen.

“Following its investigation into an online incident involving Juri Vips, Oracle Red Bull Racing has terminated Juri’s contract as its test and reserve driver,” the team said in a statement.

“The team do not condone any form of racism.”

Footage of Vips playing a Call of Duty on a live stream with fellow Red Bull Junior Team member Liam Lawson and others emerged last week. The phrase “bitch n*****” is heard at one point, following which several of the players responded: “Juri”.

Red Bull initially announced Vips had been suspended from his role at the team, which he joined in 2018.

Vips issued a statement last week in which he said he “unreservedly apologised” for the comment. “This language is entirely unacceptable and does not portray the values and principles that I hold,” he said. “I deeply regret my actions and this is not the example I wish to set.”

He was due to participate in this weekend’s Formula 2 round for Hitech. The team is yet to confirm its plans for the Silverstone round which begins a sequence of eight F2 races in July.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 F1 season

Browse all 2022 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

43 comments on “Red Bull drop Vips from Junior Team over use of racial slur”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    28th June 2022, 17:26

    I guess that’s one way of clearing up the problem of having too many juniors in F2 to pick from for that 1 Alpha Tauri seat…

    1. Exactly, considering Mateschitz’s pet media project ServusTV is happy to give a platform to all manner of odious guests (read: neo-fascists in all their various guises; VICE had a lengthy article about this broadcaster a while ago) this seems like Vips (granted, foolishly) gave Red Bull a convenient pretext to appear considerate and also evade any potential financial consequences of terminating his contract.

    2. Or an year old Piquet video surfaces which strong arm RB to fire Vips.

      1. The video was actually reported to be from November, so not a year old @peartree.

        1. @bascb ok, the video is old enough to have a baby.

  2. Bravo.
    Zero Tolerance

    1. Yep. One tiny lapse in judgement and people should suffer for eternity. Good call…. /s

      1. If the N word just rolls off your tongue on a publicly viewable livestream you know he’s saying it all the time among friends. It’s not something that you just say accidentally, it really isn’t. Stop trying to claim it is.

      2. Who is suffering for eternity? He lost his job. Just like a LOT of other people would if they did something similar. He can do what they have to do, go look for another job and learn something from his error.

    2. @bogolo Whilst it was unquestionably something that needed to be looked at I am not sure I agree with your definition of ‘zero tolerance’. Maybe the investigation uncovered further examples of ongoing issues or a demonstrably intentional negative/unacceptable behaviour. But beyond this he really should be given some opportunity to learn from the mistake.

  3. RandomMallard
    28th June 2022, 17:41

    Well, that’s probably the end of the road for the Vips in F1 story. Especially with Gasly’s new contract last week, he’d only be languishing in F2, where’s he’s been inconsistent at best, for another season. In a few ways it’s a shame, I remember reading about him in my first ever F1 program at Silverstone in 2018, and since then he’s always been on my radar, and while not the generational talent of Leclerc or Russell in the junior formulas, he was clearly a decent driver.

    But after last week I think this was the only reasonable outcome. It’s just something you can’t say and expect not to face consequences. It’s disgusting.

  4. I have mixed feelings about this decision. It’s a young guy, English is not his native language. The N-word is not ok to use in Europe, but does not have the same weight to it as in the USA. He should definitely not have used it, but destroying his future career over a stupid mistake is harsh. Unless there are more reasons to believe he is not fitting in the Red Bull family of course. With the information we have I would say give him an alternative punishment where he can learn more about the subjects of oppression, slavery, racism etc and leave it at that.

    1. @Frank Native language or not is entirely irrelevant as otherwise, double standard treatment would arise if people got let off the hook based on whether one particular language is their first or not.

    2. If you don’t know it’s a word you just don’t use as a white person then you must be living under a rock. He’s not an 80 year old who grew up in a different time. He’s a modern switched on guy, he knew. The only ‘mistake’ he made was saying the word he’s no doubt used before in private, but doing so publicly where he got seen using it.

      Anyone saying the word in Europe knows full well, that’s just nonsense. And if it is as you say we’ll then this becomes an educating experience as the word shouldn’t be used and if you don’t know that then maybe this will teach you.

  5. I think Vips is a talented driver and it’s a shame we will not get to see him move further up the ladder, but he has only himself to blame. What other outcome could there possibly be?

    Pleased that Red Bull have taken swift and decisive action to show that this sort of behaviour is never acceptable.

  6. He isn’t even Racist according to Enaam Ahmed. It was a moment of stupidity inspired by hearing the N word in Rap Music and Movies/TV..

    But Red Bull got their excuse to get rid of him. As they had too many in their program anyway..

    1. Enaam doesn’t get to speak for Black people. I am South Asian too and if a close friend of mine said the N word I wouldn’t rush to defend him the way Enaam did.

  7. Chris Horton
    28th June 2022, 18:37

    Career ender.

    I feel like to be so totally unaware of what he was saying during a live stream, potentially means he uses that word casually in daily life. In that case, I have no sympathy.

  8. He deserved a second chance, especially after his apology.
    That’s a bit harsh.

    1. But totally expected. Assaulting people, groping females on social media, that’s OK.

      The lesson is, don’t say the wrong word in a moment of frustration while playing a video game. It will destroy your career.

      1. What he did is not okay, but especially at his age mistakes do happen, he’s still IMO in a learning phase, a 21 years old can’t be looked at and judged the same way as a 69 years old guy.
        But again, maybe Red Bull needed a pretext to solve one of their line up problems, and as a bonus look like a great team.

  9. A fully expected outcome & shameful how he effectively destroyed his racing career or at least his F1 chance via a single word.

  10. So Red Bull has just set a precedent to all its employees, but how sustainable is it long term?

    How long until one of their main drivers or top figures in the team is filmed saying something stupid while drunk, in a party, playing games or whatever?
    I kind of feel that they’ve painted themselves into a corner.

    1. Actually sort of happened in 2020 with Verstappen already (not the same language but a Mongolian government ambassador complained about what he said at the time):

  11. I keep hearing the guy likes rap. If he chooses to engage in a predominately black cultural form then I guess he probably is not racist (unless he is massively inconsistent). It seems a bit different to somebody using it because they think black people are subhuman.

    On a tangent, I sometimes listen to hip hop and find myself singing along. I always skip out that word when singing along even when on my own, but I am not sure I am respecting black people more by censoring their cultural products.

    1. I keep hearing the guy likes rap. If he chooses to engage in a predominately black cultural form then I guess he probably is not racist (unless he is massively inconsistent).

      That’s really not how it works. Millions of people watch football and American football every week, and there are plenty of players from other countries or who are POC. And there are plenty of fans who will root on their team but be racist at the same time.

      Honestly, if he really does listen to a lot of rap music, then he should have a sense of what words are acceptable for him and what ones are not.

  12. Interesting comments. I wouldn’t think he is racist at all and was just spouting nonsense. Having said that I would want him gone from RedBull if he is playing video games and acting like a child at 21. I mean maybe if he was 14 and in carts or something. Can’t believe these guys aren’t stage managed better or taught by their parents to be more mature. I mean he’s 21 for sake.

  13. Insanity. Unlike Piquet, this was harmless chatter among friends playing a video game.

    1. And if you were a black fan of his watching the stream how do you think that makes them feel?

    2. It’s not harmless. And the attitude that it is, is one of the reasons it persists.

      If it’s really meant to be harmless chatter, then use harmless words. Not slurs.

  14. First off racism is wrong and those who are racist and show no remorse for there views deserve to be called out forthere apphorent views.

    However I always feel a bit uncomfortable when young people today make mistakes or have certain opinions at a younger age and are often given no opportunity to apologize and learn from it because the nature of the internet and social media is to villify and shove them to the dark corner where they will never be heard from again.

    I’m sure we all said, did or held views when we were younger which are things we would never say, do or believe now.

    People should be allowed to make mistakes and be allowed to have held views in the past which they may not believe today. Learning from those mistakes and been able to change ones views as you grow up is part of life and i just don’t like how sometimes mistakes of youth and/or past views are allowed to define who someone is for the rest of there life.

    1. Yeah I agree. This is cancel-culture responding with a knee-jerk reaction.

      I think there should at least be a single “pass” for lack of a better term to allow the individual to learn.

      Make the offender attend a class, and produce a short video apologising and explaining in detail why the thing they did was offensive. Force the offender to learn, grow and be completely aware of their actions; and share those learning with the wider community, pushing forward the conversation.

      If they refuse, then yes: cancelled.

      Of course, after all that, for a second offence: cancelled.

      These are really missed opportunities to educate the wider community; and not just destroy someone’s career for something which could very well be an honest mistake.

      1. 1. This isn’t cancel culture. He was fired by his employer for doing something stupid. Everyone could be fired just the same for doing something like that. It’s called being held responsible for your actions.

        2. While it might be great to have a second chance, that’s not life. Screw up big enough at your job, and your boss will sack you.

        3. Yes, he is young, and young people sometimes do stupid things. Sometimes they get away with it. Sometimes not. I don’t hate the guy, I don’t know the guy at all. And maybe the racing series and the teams need better PR classes for new hires. When your entire career is based around your ability to drive and not embarrass the company/sponsor, and you fail at one of them, chances are, you’re not sticking around long.

  15. Is the FIA going to do anything? It’s basically the same situation as Kyle Larson a few years ago, and, as well as losing his drive, NASCAR made him sit the rest of the year out and complete sensitivity training before allowing him to compete in any of their races again.

    It shouldn’t just be up to Red Bull to fire him. If the FIA is truly committed to stamping this sort of thing out, they need to act too.

    Best thing would be a suspension from all FIA-sanctioned events for the rest of the season. If he’s truly learned his lesson by the end of the season, he can continue his career next year.

  16. I would have thought a large financial punishment and some kind of reeducation would be more suitable.
    Interesting that they condemn this young man’s career for a very wrong but flippant comment and not even comment on Max’s girlfriends Dad for a hate filled rant…

    1. Interesting that they condemn this young man’s career for a very wrong but flippant comment and not even comment on Max’s girlfriends Dad for a hate filled rant…

      Vips is a Redbull driver and Piquet has nothing to do with Redbull

      1. Max is a Red Bull driver, dating the bigots daughter and is one of very few drivers to have not publicly commented. Red Bull also silent, while sacking someone for a lesser offence.
        Time to stand up, or not. Looks like they chose not.

        The fact that Piquets friendship also allegedly influenced one of the stewards at last year’s Brazilian grand Prix where Max went unpunished for an outrageous piece of driving is also a factor in their quietness, I personally believe.

  17. I expected a reprimand or a fine but not this. I’m a bit sorry for him the question is, is he a racist because he used the N word or is there more than we know at this moment. I guess the sponsors are very strict in bad publicity.

  18. I agree with a zero tolerance on this type of thing, yes it’s unfortunate for him and his career but this is how change happens when other kids see the repercussions and ask themselves “Why?” this will help them understand.

    What specifically compounded this for me was Vips apology, it didn’t feel sincere but instead read like a PR boilerplate.

    No matter what your background, where you are raised, this should be common sense – even more so when on the world stage.

    Same as the driver doing the nazi salute, and honestly the same should have happened to Mazepin.

    1. Of course it’s insincere, in the heat of the moment he said a word, which he probably had on his mind because of the music he listens to – it should not be this big of a deal. He’s not a racist just because of this.

      1. I’d you actually listen to black music as much as is being used to defend him, then you may have picked up the very fact that the N word belongs to black people and shouldn’t be used by others, there’s so many songs that explicitly bring up this notion!

      2. Agree with @davidhunter13 here. People keep trying to use this excuse. One, it’s just stupid, that’s not the only word in rap but somehow it’s the only word white kids hear?

        And, two, white rappers/musicians don’t get away with using that word. The few that do are either niche (with racists) or get quickly corrected by others.

        Three, he doesn’t have to BE a racist for the use of the word to matter. If you pedal racist terms, you clearly do not care about the impact they have on people, and at best you’re what, a sociopath who doesn’t care about people of a certain race or POC generally? Sounds racist to me. And regardless of whether or not he is racist, his actions are close enough that a company no longer wants him on the payroll.

        1. *peddle* good old voice to text.

          *If you peddle racist terms…*

Comments are closed.