Red Bull juniors Vips and Lawson to make FP1 debuts

Juri Vips (EST), Red Bull Racing 14.12.2021. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhab
© XPB 

Red Bull juniors Juri Vips and Liam Lawson will get a chance to make their maiden appearances at a Grand Prix weekend during 2022, with the team confirming runs for both men in free practice sessions this season.

New rules mean that teams have to field inexperienced drivers in at least two FP1 sessions during the year rather than relying on their main drivers, or official reserves who have already completed more than two Grand Prix races during their career.

Formula 2 driver Vips has already taken part in two post-season tests at Abu Dhabi in 2020 and 2021. He's expected to take the wheel of Red Bull’s new RB18 contender in two practice sessions this season.

A Red Bull junior since 2018, the 21-year-old Estonian will also continue to race for Hitech in the support series, which saw him finish in sixth place in last year's championship with two race wins over the course of the campaign.

Lawson was his F1 team mate last year, but this year will move to the Carlin team alongside Logan Sargeant. The 20-year-old New Zealander also competed in DTM and missed out on the title to Maximilian Götz by just three points.

Lawson's FP1 opportunity will be with Red Bull's sister team AlphaTauri, the team with which he has already worked with at last December's young drivers test at Yas Marina Circuit.

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost confirmed the choice when asked at Circuit de Catalunya this week who the team's rookie candidate would be.

“It will be Liam Lawson,” he said. “And of course, this is also a decision from Red Bull.


"Currently, the drivers are Liam Lawson and Vips, I think that Vips will drive for Red Bull Racing and Lawson for Scuderia Alpha Tauri."

“He was also testing with us last year in Abu Dhabi," Tost continued. "He did a good job. He is driving this year in Formula 2, and then we will see what the next steps will be.”

Tost's comments suggest that the plans aren't entirely locked-in and may be subject to change depending on how the pair get on in F2.

Last year's title went to Oscar Piastri, who missed out on promotion to F1 in 2022 but who has been appointed reserve driver at Alpine, meaning he's likely to get FP1 outings at some point this year.

Similarly F2 runner-up Robert Shwartzman has taken a reserve driver role at Ferrari, and he will get a chance to show what he can do at the wheel of the F1-75 at some point during the season.

Sargeant meanwhile is part of the Williams junior driver roster, as is Jack Aitken who would still be eligible to appear as a rookie despite having made his Grand Prix debut with the team in 2000 at Sakhir.

Aitken sat in for George Russell when the Briton was loaned to Mercedes to substitute for Lewis Hamilton who had tested positive for coronavirus prior to the penultimate race of the season.

Russell is now driving full-time for Mercedes, whose highest-placed junior is currently F2 rookie Frederik Vesti.

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