Vips to make Spa F2 debut, replacing injured Gelael at DAMS

Red Bull protege Juri Vips will make his FIA Formula 2 debut with the DAMS team, alongside his former F3 teammate Dan Ticktum, at Spa next weekend.

Vips to make Spa F2 debut, replacing injured Gelael at DAMS

The Estonian is to replace regular driver Sean Gelael, who suffered a back injury in an impact with a kerb on the last lap of the feature race at Barcelona last weekend. Vips will also contest at least the Monza and Mugello races.

Last year Vips raced in the FIA F3 series, winning three races and finishing fourth in the championship. He was also second at Macau, where he took pole position. For 2020 Red Bull steered him towards Super Formula rather than F2.

He contested one race there at Suzuka at the end of 2019, but his 2020 season has been compromised by the COVID-19 crisis and travel restrictions that mean the 20-year-old has not been able to get to Japan for next week's Motegi opener. Earlier this month he took part in the first rounds of the Formula Regional European series at Misano.

“I’m very thankful and happy for the opportunity that DAMS has given me,” said Vips. “I know it’s going to be really difficult to just jump in with more than half the F2 season already completed, but I will do everything I can to give the team as strong a result as they deserve.

“I’m also looking forward to working alongside Dan, who I’m sure will help me get up to speed, and we will aim to get good points for the team.”

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DAMS team owners, Gregory and Olivier Driot, added: “It’s always difficult for a team to have to change a driver during the season, especially in the way it’s happened. Sean is very well integrated and close to every member of DAMS, so this hits us hard.

“Nevertheless, we have to push on and ensure Dan has a good teammate for the upcoming races. We have the pleasure to bring on board Juri Vips, who’s a very talented driver and has shown his pace in junior categories.

“It will be difficult to get started because he’s never driven in F2, so Spa is going to be more of a test than a proper race weekend. He will have good support from the team, the engineers and Dan as well, so we hope for a strong start to the second half of the season.”

Gelael was released from hospital on the evening of the Barcelona accident. His father initially indicated on social media that he would be out for two weeks.

However, on Wednesday, Gelael indicated that he would be away for longer. In an Instagram post he wrote: “I’m back home in Jakarta as a result of the injury. I will be out for six weeks minimum, which will mean I will miss the majority of the races.

“It has been a very challenging season... and because of the support of all of you, we still keep working hard, we still keep faith, and we still thank God for everything.”

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