Formula 2 team Hitech Grand Prix have explained why they have opted to retain Juri Vips after he allegedly made racist comments during an online game.
Red Bull recently confirmed that they have terminated their contract with junior driver Vips with immediate effect following the incident, with the Estonian having appeared to make the remarks on a Twitch stream.
Vips issued a statement via social media in which he apologised for the "offensive language", adding: "This language is entirely unacceptable and does not portray the values and principles that I hold.
"I deeply regret my actions and this is not the example I wish to set. I will co-operate with the investigation fully."
On 28 June, Red Bull announced that Vips' contract had been terminated. However, he will continue to race in F2 with Hitech GP, and the team have now explained why they have taken this stance.
Hitech GP offering Vips chance to "redeem himself"
Oliver Oakes, team boss at Hitech GP, detailed in a statement on the outfit's social media channels that he wants to give Vips the chance to "redeem himself".
"I have made the decision for Juri to keep his F2 seat with Hitech for the remainder of the season, a decision we have seriously debated," Oakes said.
"Allowing him to complete his season with Hitech is an opportunity for him to demonstrate, through his actions, the type of person he is.
"I have made it clear that I think the language used was totally unacceptable, but I choose to give him the chance to redeem himself."
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Red Bull contract being terminated is a "deservedly severe punishment"
Oakes added: "Hitech GP employs an inclusive work force and has never condoned racist behaviour or offensive behaviour in any forms.
"That said, if we live in a society where no one can make a mistake, then genuinely apologise, have the chance for redemption and learn from it – what does it say about society?
"I don't know why he said what he said. I don't know why he was streaming and playing COD [Call of Duty] at that time of day. Certainly, there are things which would have been far more beneficial for his career!
"What I do know is that having his contract terminated by Red Bull as a result of his actions is a crushing experience for him, a deservedly severe punishment.
"The reality is there will not be unanimous agreement whether that punishment is sufficient, and that is totally understandable."
Hitech have called for Vips to make "lasting changes", and stated that his "self-respect, his reputation and his career are now firmly in his hands".
Formula 2 find Hitech's decision "surprising"
In response to Hitech's decision, Formula 2 issued a statement in which they expressed their surprise at the team opting to retain Vips.
"Following the recent incident involving Juri Vips, F2 would like to reaffirm that the use of racist or discriminatory language cannot be tolerated in any environment," the statement read.
"Hitech Grand Prix’s decision today is surprising and not one we would have taken. We will monitor the situation carefully with them to ensure that such behaviour is properly addressed."
The next F2 event will take place at Silverstone over the British Grand Prix weekend.
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