Juri Vips Getty Formula 2
Getty Images

Oracle Red Bull Racing announced Tuesday that they have terminated the contract of junior driver Juri Vips following an investigation into Vips' use of a racial slur during an online gaming session. Vips' firing comes one week after he was initially suspended by Red Bull due to the incident.

Vips had been livestreaming himself playing Call of Duty: Warzone with fellow Red Bull junior driver Liam Lawson when he referred to another player as a "b---h n---a" during a game. Vips had served as Red Bull's test and reserve driver alongside his duties as a driver for Hitech Grand Prix in Formula 2, and he last month drove Red Bull's F1 car during first practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Estonian driver apologized in a statement posted to his Instagram account, expressing contrition for both the racial slur and another moment on his livestream in which he called the color pink "gay".

"I wish to unreservedly apologize for the offensive language used during a live gaming stream earlier today," Vips 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."

Although the incident meant that Vips lost his ride with Red Bull -- and by extension a path to a Formula 1 ride -- he will continue to drive for Hitech Grand Prix in F2. Despite the objections of F2 itself, the British-based team explained that they believed Vips' punishment was sufficient and that he deserved the opportunity to redeem himself.

"Hitech GP employs an inclusive workforce and has never condoned racism or offensive behaviour in any forms," read a statement by Hitech boss Oliver Oakes. "That said, 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?

"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. The reality is there will not be unanimous agreement whether that punishment is sufficient, and that is totally understandable."

The incident and subsequent firing of Vips is one of two controversies over racially-charged language that have emerged in F1 over the past week. Several days ago, three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet came under fire after an interview surfaced in which he used a racial term in reference to Lewis Hamilton during a podcast in late 2021.