Red Bull junior Jüri Vips admitted that he feels “lucky” to have avoided being dropped from the Red Bull Junior Team for 2020.
The 19-year-old Estonian impressed greatly in his debut Formula season for Hitech Grand Prix, taking three wins and finishing fourth in the championship behind the Prema Powerteam trio of Robert Shwartzman, Marcus Armstrong, and Jehan Daruvala.
However, while fellow Red Bull juniors Daruvala and Yuki Tsunoda will compete in the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship, Vips has instead been drafted into the Super Formula Championship in Japan, becoming the third Red Bull junior to race for Team Mugen in the last two years after Dan Ticktum and Patricio O’Ward.
Should Vips finish in the top two, he would have enough points for an FIA Super Licence required to graduate to Formula 1.
However, speaking with Motorsport.com, Vips has admitted his concern that a poor performance could bring his tenure at Red Bull to an end.
“The Red Bull programme is tough and I think if I don’t do really, really well, I’m pretty aware that I can be kicked out. So I really have to aim high.
“We’ll see obviously what happens but I’m sure the expectations from them are high, which is normal because they want the best standard in Formula 1.”
When asked whether his performances in F3 had met Red Bull’s expectations, Vips said:
“Yeah, I was surprised. I was actually afraid after last year I might get kicked out because I didn’t win the championship.
“I was lucky to stay I guess, I don’t know. You never know when you’re in the programme. They’ve dropped a lot of good drivers in the past so I just have to do my best and not think about it in the end. That’s the only thing I can do.”
Vips performed well in Super Formula’s Fuji test in March, finishing seventh-fastest on the first day of testing and only two-tenths off team-mate, Tomoki Nojiri.
Vips had already made is Super Formula debut in last years finale at Suzuka, finishing in 18th after encountering problems during the race.
It remains unclear when the 2020 season will kick off due to the situation surrounding the pandemic in Japan. The first four rounds at Suzuka, Fuji, Autopolis, and SUGO were all been postponed as a result of the outbreak.
The first scheduled event is at Motegi on August 30 while the postponed Suzuka round will become a double-header at the season-finale in November.