Jüri Vips named Red Bull Turkish Grand Prix backup driver

Jüri Vips.
Jüri Vips. Source: Dutch Photo Agency/Red Bull Content Pool

Estonian Formula Two driver Jüri Vips is to be a backup driver at this weekend's full Formula One Turkish Grand Prix, ERR's sports portal reports.

Vips, who has had some races in Formula 2 (F2) with the DAMS team during the coronavirus-beset 2020 season, obtained his super license after meeting the required 300 kilometers' driving distance in an F1 car.

The Red Bull F1 team announced on its social media account that he will be back-up driver for both it and sister team Scuderia AlphaTauri.

Vips, 20, was in the U.K. last week, testing the Red Bull F1 car, and with the team's regular test drivers, Sebastien Buemi and Sergio Sette Camara busy with responsibilities elsewhere, got the nod for the weekend's event – itself only added to the calendar in August following other cancellations resulting from the pandemic – at the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit.

While Vips was slated to race in Japan's Super Formula Championship this season, this was dashed by the coronavirus pandemic when the team he was due to drive for chose a local Japanese driver instead.

The Estonian has nonetheless driven in F2 with DAMS, replacing Sean Gelael, who was injured after a crash in Barcelona in summer, and in European Formula three as well, reaching the podium three times out of nine races.

The FIA, motorsport's senior governing body, announced a simplification of licensing rules last month, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying restrictions.

The period during which license points have to be collected has been extended to four years, with extensions also awarded to drivers who have consistently shown good driving skills; this and being dropped from the Japanese series gave Vips the opportunity to apply for, and get, the F1 super license. 

Red Bull's current drivers are Dutch driver Max Verstappen, currently third in the drivers' table, and Alexander Albon of Thailand, while Pierre Gasly (France) and Daniil Kvyat (Russia) drive for AlphaTauri. 

Being appointed an F1 team's test driver is often a step towards getting a full drive in subsequent seasons.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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