The Hitech F2 team has confirmed that Jüri Vips will continue representing the team until the end of the current season. Vips' contract with F1 team Oracle Red Bull was terminated earlier this week following an investigation into the Estonian driver's use of offensive language during a live-streamed online video game.
According to Hitech, Vips will be given the opportunity to make amends. "I have made the decision for Jüri to keep his F2 seat with Hitech for the remainder of the season, a decision we have seriously debated," said Hitech team boss Oliver Oakes.
"Allowing him to finish the season at Hitech will give him the opportunity 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 workforce and has never condoned racism or offensive behavior in any forms, " Oakes continued. "That said, if we live in a society where no one can make a mistake, then genuinely apologize, 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 result of his actions is a crushing experience for him, a deservedly severe punishment," said Oakes.
"The reality is there will not be unanimous agreement whether that punishment is sufficient, and that is totally understandable."
Oakes added that, in his personal view, no apologies or words alone are not enough to repair the damage caused by Vips' actions. "By allowing him to continue racing at Hitech, we are giving Jüri the opportunity to demonstrate genuine and sincere remorse," added Oakes, highlighting that Vips needs to make long lasting changes and not simply "short-term virtue-signaling comments."
"While this may not satisfy everyone, I believe we all deserve a second chance in life, but never a third. Jüri's self-respect, his reputation and his career are now firmly in his (own) hands."
Hitech's decision to retain Vips until the end of the season, has already been criticized by F2. "Hitech Grand Prix's decision today is surprising and not one we would have taken," said a statement posted by the official F2 Series Twitter account. "We will monitor the situation carefully with them to ensure that such behavior is properly addressed."
Last week, it emerged that Vips had used the 'N-word' while playing a live-streamed video game, with Red Bull teammate Liam Lawson. In a separate clip, Vips refused to wear a pink Red Bull baseball cap, stating that it was "gay."
Following an investigation into the incident, Vips was dropped by the Red Bull Formula 1 team, where the Estonian had been a reserve and test driver since 2020.
Vips responded to the incident with an Instagram post on June 21 in which he wrote, "I wish to unreservedly apologize for the offensive language used during a live gaming stream earlier today," the Estonian wrote. "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 cooperate with the investigation fully."
Editor: Michael Cole