Red Bull’s decision to dismiss Juri Vips from its young driver programme shows it is serious about tackling racism, says team principal Christian Horner.
The team’s announcement coincided with the revelation Nelson Piquet had used a racist expression to refer to Lewis Hamilton. Horner said this was why Red Bull, unlike some other teams, made no statement on Piquet’s language.
“We were appalled at Nelson’s comments,” Horner told Sky. “We’d obviously had an incident with one of our young drivers at the end of last week, and we took very definitive action. He’d made a racist comment and so we took action and we immediately removed him from the team.
“So we put out a statement about Juri, and then this [story] comes out. We felt that we’d made a very strong statement through action of actually dropping Juri from the team, for not in any way condoning any form of racism or discrimination.”
Hamilton yesterday questioned why some teams have not signed up to the anti-racism charter proposed by his commission last year. Horner said Red Bull are “fully behind Lewis” and “fully signed up to the Hamilton Commission.
“We felt that actions sometimes talk louder than words and the action that we took with Juri, which obviously was draconian, but in line with the policy that we have.”
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen criticised the comments made by Piquet, his partner Kelly’s father, but said the three-times world champion is not racist.
Horner said Verstappen had also shown he is “fully supportive” of Hamilton. “He stated it in the press conference yesterday, he’s fully supportive of Lewis, not just of Lewis but any form of racism or discrimination in the sport.”
“As Red Bull, we’re a young team, we’re a very inclusive team, we have a very young following, a very diverse following, and that’s very important to us,” Horner added.
Vips’ Formula 2 team Hitech has not taken any action against the driver, who is competing for them at Silverstone this weekend, despite the series expressing concern over their decision.
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