Red Bull’s latest ‘man best acceptable to accomplish Formula 1’, Juri Vips’s aperture animadversion about his approaching division in Japan is unsurprising.
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“If I realistically appetite to get to F1, I accept a big, big job in duke this year,” he reflects. “The jump from Formula 3 to Super Formula is humungous. The car is so abundant faster.”
You alone accept to attending at the fate that befell Dan Ticktum, his antecedent as ‘man best likely’ and at the Super Formula Aggregation Mugen squad, to acknowledge the assignment faced in 2020 by the 19-year-old Estonian.
Ticktum was dumped afterwards three SF starts in 2019, and his backup Pato O’Ward didn’t do abundant either. Two years afore that, in 2017, Pierre Gasly lined up in the aforementioned bench and came abutting to acceptable the title, but he did that as ascendant GP2 best and had spent three seasons at GP2/Formula Renault 3.5 level.
That’s a big aberration in acquaintance akin to that of Vips, who aback acceptable the 2017 German Formula 4 appellation has had one year in the Formula 3 European Championship, and one in FIA F3. He accomplished fourth in the championship in both those years of F3, which puts him in a bewilderment as far as F1 superlicence credibility are concerned.
The credibility he becoming from his F4 success will be wiped bright abutting winter beneath the FIA’s three-year rolling rule, acceptation that one of the best agitative adolescent drivers in the pre-F1 empyrean could be denied a attempt at the big time because of a) his abridgement of account afore he accustomed in the Red Bull abiding in October 2018, b) the actuality that in F3 he never collection for one of the recognised enactment top teams such as Prema or ART, who assume to bung in champions like lightbulbs, and c) Red Bull sending him to Japan, aback it would acceptable be easier to acquire the credibility he needs in Formula 2.
“For abiding it’s a harder job,” offers Vips. “I’ve got 20 superlicence credibility – I accomplished fourth in really, absolutely able championships and you charge to get 40 points, which is appealing annoying for me because I’ve never been in the best team, the acceptable team.
“The credibility arrangement is a little bit arresting – in F2 it would be a lot easier, but I don’t anticipate it was anytime an advantage for me. It costs a lot of money to go there and it would be a big, big charge from Red Bull.
“They didn’t appetite to do it, and our ancestors doesn’t accept the money to do it.”
Red Bull came calling in the aboriginal abode because Vips’s acceptability grew rapidly during his amateur Euro F3 season, at Motopark alongside Ticktum.
Stunning performances had accidentally propelled him into appellation altercation – aloof afore the end-of-season accomplish from Prema brace Mick Schumacher and Robert Shwartzman larboard the absolute paddock abrading their heads.
“I had the atomic breadth out of anyone on the filigree in agreement of testing, because we were absolutely bound from the ancestors budget,” he recalls.
“So I knew I was absolutely extemporaneous compared to anybody else, and I anticipate that’s the acumen why I was array of disturbing in the aboriginal two rounds. But again I absolutely accepted how to drive the car at Norisring [the third round] and that helped me for the blow of the season.
“After that there weren’t abounding circuit area I didn’t accept the abeyant to win. If I attending aback now, I fabricated so abounding mistakes that year. Afterwards the added annular I was 62 credibility abaft the baton already. Afterwards the aboriginal rounds, I anticipate I could accept still won the championship afterwards the Schumacher problems if I did a acceptable year.
“It’s a bit of a shame, but I assumption I was still appealing adolescent and immature, and I’ve bigger anytime aback and I’ve abstruse from that.”
Interesting that he refers to ‘the Schumacher problems’, address in apperception the depression that was circulating at the time – decidedly at Motopark – about the German’s late-season pace…
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“Ah, well, yeah,” he muses. “But in the end no one knows, you know?”
By the penultimate annular of Euro F3’s 2018 division at the Red Bull Ring, Vips had an action to accompany the Renault F1 inferior programme aback Red Bull’s Helmut Marko alone in on his home track.
So the adventure goes, Marko marched into the HQ of one of the top teams and declared: “I’ve got Vips!” alike afore a accord was agreed. Turned out he was right, if a bit premature…
Vips came abutting to abutting ART for the new FIA F3 Championship in 2019, afore plumping for Hitech Grand Prix.
Hitech had got up and active over 2015-16 in European F3 with an engineering accord with ART sister aggregation AOTech, and now had ex-ART man Christophe Perrin as engineering arch beyond the accomplished team, and addition ART old garcon, Pierre-Paul Fery, dispatch up from the role of abstracts architect to attending afterwards Vips’s car.
With the new FIA F3 Dallara finer a revamped adaptation of the old car from GP3, which ART had a history of dominating, that looked like a acceptable abstruse structure.
“For abiding it helped,” Vips declares, “but, as we array of begin out throughout the season, on the FIA F3 car the [Pirelli] tyres wouldn’t absolutely behave in the aforementioned way as the GP3 tyres did.
“I don’t apperceive if they afflicted the admixture or not. So the set-ups we were aggravating that formed absolutely able-bodied in GP3 didn’t absolutely assignment aftermost year. But it helped me get up to acceleration as anon as possible, because they knew a lot what antecedent drivers advancing from European F3 and the Hankook tyres struggled on.”
Like in Euro F3 in 2018, a mid-season access of anatomy – wins at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone; pole at Silverstone – brought Vips appropriate into the anatomy for the title. But a late-summer slump at Spa and Monza bulk him, although he brought it home to win the reversed-grid division afterpiece at Sochi.
Interestingly for a man whose press-on, amazing active appearance had ill-fitted the affectionate Hankooks so well, he acclimatized accurately to the high-degradation Pirellis. The big adversity for Vips, acclimated to a almost advanced plateau of aiguille achievement from the Hankooks, was nailing his condoning accomplishment on the aboriginal shot.
He blames that – and also, as usual, readily admits to his own mistakes – as affidavit for falling abbreviate of Prema leash Shwartzman, Marcus Armstrong and Jehan Daruvala, all of whom had additionally accelerating from Euro F3 so had the aforementioned things to learn, for his position in the final standings.
“Honestly, I begin the footfall from F4 to European F3 abate than advancing from European F3 to FIA F3,” he admits.
“There’s so abundant to learn. I anticipate the drivers I was angry for the championship with aloof did a bigger job in the alpha of the year. I would say afterwards Paul Ricard [the added round] I was absolutely comfortable, but anniversary weekend absolutely counts in this high-level championship.”
Vips’s abortion to win the end-of-season Macau Grand Prix is well-documented. He was amazing there on his admission appointment in the old Euro F3 car in 2018, alone to be abundantly adverse with red flags while on hot laps in qualifying.
In 2019, he won the accomplishment chase and looked on advance for achievement in the capital race, afore a assurance car accustomed Richard Verschoor to tow accomplished on the restart.
Vips’s DRS didn’t assignment in the actual aftermath, banishment him to try to repass “the ancient way”, but in accomplishing so bound up “at the aiguille of the anchor and the advanced tyres were ruined. I don’t apperceive how I managed to accumulate up with him in the aftermost few laps”.
Vips reckons the MP Motorsport aggregation of Verschoor had a accoutrement that accustomed his Dutch battling an advantage: “We were bottoming a little bit, and I anticipate the Prema cars were as well. If I attending at the accomplishment race, I bethink advancing out of the aftermost bend on a restart, and Shwartzman was aloof as far as Verschoor was [in the capital race], and he got boilerplate abreast me on the braking into Lisboa.
“Verschoor was already overtaking me afterwards Turn 2 [the Mandarin kink]. The MP car was not bottoming, so I anticipate they had a bit of an advantage on the straight. But that’s Macau – the aggregation did a absolute job, the car was mega and I feel I didn’t accomplish any mistakes. I’m appreciative of that weekend.”
By then, Vips had already fabricated his Super Formula admission at Suzuka with Aggregation Mugen. With no testing, he was beeline in at the abysmal end – literally.
“First lap at Suzuka, aboriginal lap in the car in chargeless practice, and it was in abundant rain, so I didn’t get as abundant clue time as I capital to,” he says.
“In condoning it was still appealing poor [Vips lined up on the aback row], but in third chargeless convenance on abounding tanks I was P4. In the chase as able-bodied we were absolutely fast, but it was my first-ever pitstop.
“I managed to do the adamantine allotment right, so access with a appropriate bulk of acceleration and not lose too abundant time, but again I adjourned activity off. Afterwards that I would accept gone from 19th to accomplishment ninth or 10th.”
By the time the two-day Suzuka analysis in December had finished, Vips had apparent apprehension of intent. Fastest all-embracing on the aboriginal day, he was third on day two.
“On the chase weekend I never absolutely got to use a new soft-tyre set,” he explains.
“I alone got acclimated bendable tyres [which can alone be acclimated in Q3], which already acquainted absolutely fast for me. But in the test, the aboriginal time I got to use the new bendable tyres it was like… unreal. It was so fast!
“And again aback I abstruse to use them appropriately it was like… ahhh [he sighs with pleasure]. Amazing.”
As Ticktum did, Vips will band up at the Honda-powered Mugen band alongside Tomoki Nojiri, fourth in the 2019 points.
“He’s absolutely fast, a boxy guy with a lot of experience, and that’s alone a acceptable affair because I charge addition like that abutting to me,” asserts Vips.
“And he seems like a absolutely nice guy. He doesn’t assume political or annihilation like that.”
There are additionally the accent and cultural differences of antagonism in Japan. Vips is alone antagonism in Super Formula (no added Super GT programme), so is aerial in for anniversary round.
“The antagonism in Japan is actual altered to antagonism in Europe,” he states.
“In Europe aggregate is adapted absolutely heavily, and in Japan they’re appealing laid-back, but they put abundant added focus on added stuff.
“You aloof accept to apprentice to assignment with them properly. It’s tough.
“We accept briefings in Japanese and I accept this abstracts architect who is advice to me, but not in a absolutely acceptable way. They allocution for a minute, and he tells it to me in 10 seconds, and I’m, ‘Woah, woah, be a bit added specific’.
“But Pierre, Stoffel Vandoorne and Felix Rosenqvist accept accepted you can go there and do well.”
Of course, as that Red Bull ‘man best likely’, the accountable of F1 assignment crops up.
Ticktum acclimated to absorb a lot of time on race-weekend ‘live’ assignment in the team’s simulator.
“I haven’t done chase abutment yet, but I’ve been in the actor for a few canicule now,” says Vips. “It’s mainly been development of the car.”
Any chase weekends in the sim advancing up?
“I don’t apperceive yet. I’m not that acceptable in the actor actually, so I don’t apperceive if they’re activity to appetite me for chase supports. At least, I don’t anticipate I’m that good!”
And he’s agog to get into the absolute thing: “The guys in the actor say it would be acceptable if I accept references of the absolute car, so I can advice them advance bigger for the correlation. I charge to advance them to let me do a few days…”
But the capital affair is assuming in Super Formula. Vips needs to accomplishment in the top two in an abundantly boxy championship to be acceptable for the F1 filigree in 2021. And Red Bull man Marko is awfully adamantine to please.
“There’s consistently as abundant burden as you can accept aback you’re a Red Bull Inferior driver,” says Vips.
“But it’s brainless to accept the superlicence in my head; it’s brainless to anticipate of annihilation abroad added than: how can I win this championship?”
If he does that, he’d be abundant added than Red Bull’s ‘man best acceptable to accomplish Formula 1’.
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