Red Bull junior driver Juri Vips is set to receive his first official outing in a Formula 1 car this weekend when he gets behind the wheel of the RB18 during practice ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Vips is currently in the Formula 2 championship with Hitech, and has managed two podiums so far this season after claiming two wins in six podiums in 2021.
He finished on the rostrum once with the Dams team in 2020, and the year before that he took pole in the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, ending the race at the tremendously tricky Chinese circuit in second while claiming three victories in the rest of the year.
The Estonian comes into his first championship practice session with some good momentum and plenty of promise behind him, and Red Bull will be looking on eagerly as he takes Perez’s place alongside Max Verstappen.
Vips recently affirmed that there are no specific expectations of him this year, only that he shows Red Bull that he is worth the investment.
“I don’t have a certain set goal from Red Bull that I have to win the title or anything. I just have to prove I am F1 worthy,” he said.
The 21-year-old is very aware that he is in a driver system led by Dr Helmut Marko that is notoriously ruthless, but Vips previously simplified the requisites for making it at Red Bull, stating that solid performances are all that they ask for.
“[Dr Marko] is simpler than people think,” he explained.
“He is going to put you under pressure but if you are doing well, then he is very nice and very straightforward. Perform, and everything is good.
“That is the thing with the Red Bull Junior Team. If you don’t do well, then you might get kicked out. But if you do well, you get to F1.
“They throw people out, yes. But why would you want to keep and pay drivers who are not going to be worthy of F1?
“They want only the best talent and I think that’s the right approach. They keep the best and they give them the chance.”
Vips will ultimately be hoping to earn a place at AlphaTauri in the near future, and that chance could appear when Pierre Gasly’s contract expires at the end of 2023, with the Frenchman stating that he wants to move to Red Bull by 2024.