Formula 2 racing driver Juri Vips has been suspended by Red Bull after dropping a racist slur during a Call of Duty: Warzone livestream on Twitch.
The incident occurred during a streaming session with fellow Red Bull junior team driver Liam Lawson. The slur is faint but clear, and sparked an immediate reaction from Lawson, as well as racing fans watching the stream. Prior to that, Vips had provoked a similar reaction by refusing to wear a pink Red Bull cap offered to him by Lawson, calling it “gay.”
“Juri, you can't say that,” Lawson said in reply.
Lawson and Twitch viewers weren't the only ones to notice Vips' behavior. Not long after it came to light, Red Bull issued a statement announcing the driver's suspension.
“Red Bull Racing has suspended junior driver Juri Vips from all team duties with immediate effect, pending a full investigation into the incident,” the team tweeted. “As an organization we condemn abuse of any kind and have a zero-tolerance policy to racist language or behavior within our organization.”
Predictably, Vips “unreservedly” apologized for his behavior in a post on Instagram. “This language is entirely unacceptable and does not portray the values and principles that I hold,” he wrote. “I deeply regret my actions and this is not the example I wish to set. I will cooperate with the investigation fully.”
I have no doubt that Vips deeply regrets his actions. F2 is the last stepping-stone before reaching the ranks of Formula 1, the world's most prestigious racing league, and Vips is close to taking that final step: He's a reserve driver for Red Bull's F1 team, whose regular drivers include 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen and series veteran Sergio Perez. He just made his F1 debut in May, in fact, when he filled in for Perez during Spanish Grand Prix practice sessions.
Red Bull offered no hints at the possible long-term consequences for Vips, but it's fair to say that he has a lot to lose, possibly including his ride: In 2020, Nascar Cup driver Kyle Larson was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing (and lost multiple sponsors) for using the same slur during an iRacing stream. (He was reinstated by Nascar and signed to a new team several months later, though, so I guess we hope he's learned his lesson.) I've reached out to Red Bull for comment and will update if I receive a reply.