Feeling “very blessed” to remain with Hitech Grand Prix for a second season in Formula 2, Jüri Vips plans to make the most of the opportunity by taking the fight to reigning champions PREMA Racing and proving he is “F1 worthy,” although he admits that it will be “very difficult.”
In his first full season of Formula 2, the Red Bull junior showed flashes of his undoubted ability, most notably in Baku, where he became the first F2 driver to win two races in a single round.
Ending the season sixth with six podiums, the Estonian believes that his best is yet to come.
“I feel very blessed to even be on the grid this year,” said Vips. “It’s always a blessing to be on the grid and to have the opportunity with Hitech again. I think that we had potential last year, although we didn't have a strong year in my opinion, but that is down to a lot of factors.
“I am very happy with the team. It’s a great group of people, and I am excited to spend another year with them. I think that we can achieve really, really good things together and fight for a very good position in the Championship and hopefully even challenge PREMA.
“In terms of the title, it will be very difficult to defeat PREMA, honestly. I think they're in a bit of a different league to everyone else. It is possible, it is always possible, but it is very, very difficult.
“We made some steps forward at post-season testing. In race runs we were always fast, and I think we've continued to take steps to get faster.”
Vips ended the 2021 campaign behind the wheel of Red Bull’s RB16B, driving for the Formula 1 team at the end of season young driver test in Abu Dhabi for the second year running.
It’s a seat that he hopes to hold on a permanent basis one day, as a member of the team’s driver programme. Discussing his long-term ambitions, Vips says that his F1 hopes won’t rely solely on winning the F2 title.
“I don't have a certain set goal from Red Bull that I have to win the title or anything, I just have to be proving that I am F1 worthy,” he continued. “At the test, it was cool to see the difference between the two Red Bull cars, the changes and the improvements they made between the two years.
“Any day you drive an F1 car - especially a championship-winning one - is amazing. It felt very surreal because it was only a couple of days after they won the championship. It felt very special.
“Those days are very important because it is a direct communication to the team of what your performance is like. Of course, they can judge you in F2, but when you drive the F1 car, they have the exact details and can really tell how good or bad you are.”