Having scored points in four successive races for the first time since Round 5 in Monza last season, Jüri Vips is hopeful that Hitech Grand Prix have found a chunk of pace, although the Estonian says he needs to trial it around a few different tracks before he can be certain.
Taking podiums from two of the first four races this year has Vips sitting fourth in the standings, despite two compromised Qualifying sessions, and he believes he could be even higher were it not for one or two mistakes.
“We have had really, really good potential,” said Vips. “If we can put clean weekends together, and if it continues like this, then I think that it is going to be a really, really strong season.
“The pace compared to last year, so far, has been mega. I am not going to say where, as the teams will be reading this, but let’s just say it looks like we have found some pace, at least in the first two rounds.
“We will have to see what it is like at other tracks first before we are certain though, because every track will require a different setup.”
Hitech are the current Teams’ Championship leaders, with Marcus Armstrong seventh, and Vips believes that the duo’s consistent performances are proof that their team are heading in the right direction.
“Marcus has had two very clean weekends, unlike me, but both of us are there in terms of the points,” Vips continued. “We're leading, which is quite crazy considering how messy the weekends have been for me.
“I cannot believe that we are leading, but it shows that we are doing things right and I think that it will only get better from here. There have been some little niggles that have cost us a lot of points this year already, but most of it has been out of our control, like traffic in Qualifying.
“There were mistakes in our pitstops – one from the team and one from my side - but without these things, we would be looking really good, and I’d probably be leading the Championship.”
Earning a step-up in responsibilities with Red Bull for 2022, Vips will now serve as the Formula 1 team’s official reserve driver this season.
After performing the role at the Australian Grand Prix, the 21-year-old travelled directly from Melbourne to Barcelona, and despite suffering from jetlag, he believes that the time spent with the F1 outfit was worth it.
“It will definitely help in terms of experience,” he elated. “Although flying directly from Australia to a prep day in Barcelona doesn't help mentally or physically - I am quite knackered - being the reserve driver for Red Bull is a massive privilege.
“Not many people get this kind of opportunity, so to study how the engineers are, how the team works in general, it is very nice for me.”