Indy Pro 2000 driver Enaam Ahmed has come to the defence of Formula 2 driver Juri Vips after he was suspended by Red Bull.
Vips was on a livestream when he used racist language, and that came after fellow Red Bull junior Liam Lawson gave him a pink hat, which he refused to wear, allegedly using a homophobic term.
The Estonian was immediately suspended from all activity by Red Bull, before he took to social media to apologise for the incident.
Oliver Oakes, team principal of Vips’ Hitech F2 team, was dismayed at the incident.
“I was shocked and appalled to hear about this incident,” he told Formula Nerds.
“The comments made by Juri are offensive and completely not reflective of Hitech’s inclusive values.
“Like everyone else, I found out about this an hour ago – the video and Red Bull’s suspension with an investigation to follow.”
Ahmed holds dual nationality with Britain and Pakistan and, due to his background, he has received racist abuse growing up.
The 22-year-old, who has claimed three podiums in Indy Pro since leaving Formula 3 at the end of 2020, affirmed that Vips is not a racist.
“What Juri said was wrong but going from my personal experience, he has never been racist to me ever,” he said.
“I have been called a terrorist and a suicide bomber my entire life, my country and religion has a lot of racial stereotypes.
“But in the years I’ve known Juri, he’s one of the few that hasn’t ever made a joke about it to me.
“I know what racism means and he is not. That’s all I will say.”
Juan Manuel Correa left a message of support under Vips’ IndyCar apology, stating that the mistake is not reflective of the 21-year-old as a person.
“We all make mistakes and unfortunately some are more bad than others,” said the American-Ecuadorian.
“We, those who know what kind of person you are, know that you didn’t mean it the way it came across. Life is about learning and growing; take this as an opportunity to do that and keep your head up.”
It is not yet known whether Hitech will also suspend Vips for his actions, and Formula1News.co.uk has contacted both them and Red Bull for a comment, but have not yet received a reply.