The crazy second half of 2020 for Juri Vips keeps getting crazier with a call up to be a reserve driver in F1. The Estonian will be on standby duty in Turkey this weekend for Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri.
Without Sebastien Buemi and Sergio Sette Camara available for the Turkish Grand Prix, Red Bull have opted to bring Vips in case one of their four drivers are unable to compete. With both Stroll and Perez missing races this season, it’s not impossible that we could see Vips in the cockpit.
If the F2 driver does need to make the step-up, it will mark a remarkable turnaround in Vips’ fortunes. After switching to Japanese Super Formula following a strong showing in Formula 3 in 2019, Vips watched his peers from the sidelines earlier this year. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Juri from travelling to Japan, and he had to settle for the European F3 championship instead.
Juri Vips: Jumping to F2 at Barcelona, F2 at Turkey?
However, following Sean Gelael’s back injury at Barcelona, DAMS brought Vips in as a substitute. Reunited with his F3 teammate, Ticktum, Vips narrowly missed out on points at his first F2 races before reaching the podium at the sprint race in Monza.
With Vips never even testing a Formula 2 car before, his quick adaptability was remarkable. A quality that Red Bull may be recognising to give him such a high responsibility this weekend.
Red Bull brought their 2012 RB8 out of storage at Silverstone over the last week to allow Juri to complete the 300km of F1 running required for the FIA super licence. Having concluded that day in Northamptonshire without incident, Vips will experience a weekend in the company of the F1 teams.
It’s not believed that Vips is in the running for the AlphaTauri seat for 2021, with Yuki Tsunoda looking the most likely candidate. Should a call come through, Vips will no doubt use Istanbul Park as an audition to his employers for the sought after drive.