Juri Vips will keep his Formula 2 ride despite being fired as a Red Bull junior driver for using a racial slur during a live video game broadcast.
The 21-year-old was first suspended from the junior driver program after video of him using the n-word while gaming with buddies surfaced. Red Bull cancelled his contract after a brief probe, destroying his Formula 1 career prospects.
However, his F2 team, Hitech Grand Prix, has decided to take a different approach by offering Vips a second shot after his "terrible experience" of being cut from the Red Bull programme. "If we live in a society where no-one can make a mistake, then genuinely apologise, have the chance for redemption and learn from it, what does it say about society?" said Hitech chief Oliver Oakes.
In a statement, in which the team confirmed it would give Vips the "chance to redeem himself", Oakes added: "Having his contract terminated by Red Bull as result of his actions is a crushing experience for him, a deservedly severe punishment. The reality is there will not be unanimous agreement whether that punishment is sufficient, and that is totally understandable."
Vips resorted to social media to acknowledge and apologize for his use of racist remarks. "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," wrote the Estonian.
Oliver Oakes, the CEO of Hitech Grand Prix, stated that Vips' exclusion from the Red Bull young driver program was sufficient punishment.
F2 officials have published their own statement in which they dispute Hitech's decision to allow Vips to continue racing for the team. Today's decision by Hitech Grand Prix is unexpected and not one we would have made," the statement said. "We will closely monitor the issue with them to ensure that such conduct is appropriately addressed."
Mercedes driver Dani Juncadella rushed to Vips' defense, arguing that he deserves a second chance because he has already "toned for his catastrophic error." "[F2] would have rather sacked him, beaten him, or buried him," he stated. "This is coming to the point where I believe we, as fellow racing drivers, should express our displeasure."