Juri Vips, an Estonian racing driver, has been suspended from the Red Bull Racing Junior Program pending an investigation into his use of the n-word slur during a livestreamed video gaming session.
Red Bull announced Vips’ suspension through a tweet, which read:
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.
It’s a very vague statement if you’re not aware of the context. During a livestreamed video gaming session between Vips and fellow Red Bull Junior driver Liam Lawson, Vips used a racial slur. Lawson is heard to laugh at the slur.
A clip of the incident has been posted on Twitter below:
Vips also used the word “gay” in a derogatory manner while referencing to a pink hat during a livestream. Both clips had been circulating on Twitter for several hours before Red Bull made its announcement.
Vips currently competes in the Formula 2 Championship with the Hitech Grand Prix team. At this time he’s sitting seventh in the Championship standings after having scored one second-place and two third-place finishes. His most recent race wins took place during F2's doubleheader 2021 weekend in Baku, where Vips took victory at both races.
Some fans have expressed surprise in Red Bull’s action, as it signals a welcome change in the sport’s direction. It also follows the 2020 suspension of NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, who used the same racial slur during a Twitch stream of an iRacing event. Larson was suspended by both his team, Chip Ganassi Racing, and by NASCAR, until he completed mandatory sensitivity training.
Update June 21, 2022 at 4:36 p.m. ET: Vips has responded to his suspension on Instagram by saying, “I wish to unreservedly apologize for the offensive language used during a live gaming stream earlier today. 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 with to set. I will cooperate with the investigation fully.”
Update June 21, 2022 at 6:58 p.m.. ET: A previous version of this story referred to the second video as referencing a “homophobic slur.” We chose to clarify that Vips said the word “gay” in a derogatory in regards to a situation where he tried on a pink hat. We regret the error.