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The word too much
The “racial” question was suddenly invited into the microcosm of F1 in 2020, carried by Lewis Hamilton in the midst of the #blacklivematters movement, with kneeling and protest t-shirts. At first timorous, F1 and the FIA quickly followed suit, with a big communication boost in favor of inclusiveness and diversity, like the program “We race as one”. A good way also to restore an image that was quite sulphurous in the past, between the troubled youth of a Balestre, the sweeping declarations of Ecclestone or the private escapades and the political pedigree of Max Mosley.
The Estonian Juri Vips has not turned his tongue enough in his mouth, especially in the age of social networks and live shows where everything is scrutinized, recorded and potentially explosive by the virality of the media. During a live online game, the Estonian, a member of the Red Bull youth program, dropped the word “nigger” then joked about wearing a pink cap that sounded “gay,” a perfect combo to now trigger a viral outcry, wake up the net court and prompt an immediate appeal to the cancel.
Initially suspended by Red Bull, Vips is now purely and simply sent off the program with immediate effect, when he was able to participate in his first F1 free practice session in Barcelona. The ax fell today in a press release: “After investigating an online incident involving Jüri Vips, Oracle Red Bull Racing has terminated Jüri’s test and reserve driver contract. The team does not tolerate any form of racism.”
The gossips will say that it is also a pretext to dismiss Jüri Vips, who has chained the blunders this season. He joined Red Bull’s junior program in 2018 and has been racing in Formula 2 since 2020. Despite two poles, Vips experienced many setbacks and missed out on Baku with a track exit. Too much of an error for some, and the verbal slippage crowned it all. Vips is racing in the colors of the Hitech Grand Prix team, which has not yet indicated whether its driver will continue the season as the next championship meeting arrives.
This affair should remind the young generation of pilots, fed on the internet and adept at gaming on twitch, that they are public figures and that, even in the context of a game between friends, they represent their employer and must supervise near their communication. Let’s also not forget that in the Anglo-Saxon world, the word “negro” is taboo and must according to usage be replaced by “N-Word”, even if it is cited in a didactic and explanatory manner. Several academics in the US and Canada have been reviled for uttering the “n-word”, even when it was meant to be contextualized in history and sociology lessons. Fighting against a term and the racial prejudices attached to it, without being able to name it clearly…a very Orwellian paradox, isn’t it?
Nelson at the stake
Another case that has hit the headlines in recent hours: a video showing Nelson Piquet being interviewed sparks a lively controversy, after the former world champion, evoking the clash between Hamilton and Max Verstappen (his son-in-law) at Silverstone in 2021 , called Hamilton a “little nigger”. In addition to referring to the racial problem of his country, where the Afro-Brazilian community and mestizos suffer from deep contempt on the part of the establishment, this slippage by Piquet immediately aroused unequivocal condemnations from F1, the FIA and several teams including Mercedes and McLaren.
At the same time, it’s Nelson Piquet, a regular at murderous phrases and personal attacks. Remember when he started rumors about Senna’s private life, claimed to be the better of the two because “still alive”or when he attacked Mansell’s “ugly” wife and her stupidity.
Juri Vips is dismissed with immediate effect from the Red Bull sector following remarks deemed racist, which were made in the context of a live on social networks… the Estonian suffers a sudden stop in his career .