Juri Vips: A Late Start and Measured Success

A formidable presence on the Formula 2 grid, ATRL’s Mees Drijgers discusses Estonian driver Juri Vips’ rollercoaster of a career.

Written by Mees Drijgers

May 18, 2022

Red Bull Junior and current Hitech GP driver Jüri Vips has always been a fierce competitor; after starting karting at age 11, Vips has experienced incredible highs and lows in his continuing junior career. 

 

Like most other racing drivers, Jüri Vips started his racing career driving karts, though he didn’t start driving competitively until he was 11 years old. He competed in karting from 2011 to 2015, and started his career off strong by enjoying national success in his first 3 years of karting.

 

In 2013, he won the Rotax Junior Estonian Championship and was victorious in the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in 2014. In his last year of karting, he went on to compete internationally in competitions across Europe, delivering solid results.

Vips celebrating his ADAC F4 championship with his Prema team (Photo via @juri_vips on Instagram)

Vips made his single-seater debut in 2016, racing for Prema in the Italian F4 and the ADAC Formula 4 championships. In ADAC Formula 4, he ended up finishing 6th, scoring 5 podiums, and finishing as the 2nd best rookie. In Italian F4, he scored the first wins of his single-seater career, finishing 5th in the championship and being classified as the best rookie. He would return to those same two championships with Prema in 2017. 

 

Though he returned to Italian F4 as a guest driver and was thus ineligible to be ranked in the championship, he scored two pole positions and claimed a race victory at Mugello; in ADAC Formula 4, Vips claimed the title, scoring 2 wins and 7 podiums. He tested F3 machinery at Magny-Cours and made his debut in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the end of 2017, securing himself a full-time seat for the upcoming year. 

 

In 2018, Vips joined Motopark to compete in that year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship; he finished 4th in the championship, collecting an impressive 4 wins, 8 podiums, 3 pole positions and 6 fastest laps. His strong performance paid off, as he was announced as a member of the Red Bull Junior Team the same year. He would return to the FIA F3 Championship in 2019, this time competing with Hitech GP. Once again he finished 4th in the standings, winning 3 races, one of which from pole position, and scoring another 4 podiums. 

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted traveling, Vips experienced a rather disruptive season in 2020. He was supposed to compete in the Super Formula Championship with Team Mugen, but after being unable to enter Japan due to the closure of its borders, he could not participate in the opening round. In June, he took part in a Formula Regional European Championship test with KIC Motorsport and was later confirmed as part of the team’s line-up for the 2020 season. 

 

After scoring a double podium in one of the FREC rounds, Vips was called up to replace the injured Sean Gelael at DAMS in the FIA F2 Championship, his highest finish being 3rd place at Mugello. He missed out on multiple FREC rounds due to serving the two-week quarantine period in Japan to still compete in Super Formula later in the season. His team, however, confirmed that Vips would not be competing in the remaining Super Formula rounds, and he returned to Europe for testing and reserve driver duties at Red Bull Racing.

Jüri Vips at F2 testing in Bahrain, via @Formula2 on Twitter

Vips participated in his first full-time F2 campaign with Hitech GP in 2021. Though his season started off difficult, with a disqualification from qualifying in Bahrain and three races in which he was unable to score points, Vips picked himself up and managed to deliver solid performances throughout the rest of the season. 

 

While reliability remained an issue, Vips became the first driver in the Formula 2 era to win 2 races in the same weekend when he won the second Sprint Race and the Feature Race in Baku. He added another 6 podiums to that year’s achievements and finished 6th overall in the championship standings. 

 

In 2022, Vips once again teamed up with Hitech GP. He scored his first pole position during Round 3 and has scored 2nd and 3rd place in the first two rounds of the season. 

 

Vips is no stranger to F1 machinery. He received his FIA Super License driving the RB8 at Silverstone to complete a 300km test and has driven in the pre-season Abu Dhabi test twice, once at the end of 2020 in the RB16, and a second time at the end of 2021. He has been confirmed as an official reserve driver for Oracle Red Bull Racing in 2022, and will likely do some FP1 sessions for the team this season.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mees was introduced to the world of F1 by one of her friends in July 2020 and hasn’t missed a race weekend since. Her favourite drivers are Alex Albon, Lando Norris, and George Russell; outside of F1, she also actively supports Lawson, Vips, Piastri, Ilott, and Ticktum. She specialises in writing about F2, but is looking to specialise in FE and IndyCar as well, after starting to watch both series in 2022. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture, she is currently getting MA degrees in Translation and English Literature & Culture. When she’s not watching motorsport, she’s either watching football matches (preferably Real Madrid), reading a book, or watching streams on Twitch.

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