Red Bull's rookie driver Juri Vips will make Formula 1 debut when he steps into the cockpit of RB18 during FP1 at this weekend's Spanish GP. The 21-year-old Estonian, who currently sits at the eighth spot in the F2 driver's championship, will be behind the wheels of Sergio Perez's car during the first practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.
Vips have been with Red Bull since 2018 and drove an F1 car during the post-season test in Abu Dhabi last year. Vips' debut in FP1 is happening under the recently implemented rule to give junior drivers more opportunity to test out F1 machinery. According to recently introduced rules for the F1 2022 campaign, each team must give an opportunity to a 'rookie' driver in two FP1 sessions during the season; such a driver should be one with less than two Grands Prix experience in Formula 1.
For Vips, it will be a golden opportunity to test himself up against the reigning World Champion Max Verstappen since the first practice session will draw a direct comparison with his teammate. Along with Vips, 2022-21 Formula E champion Nyck de Vries will also make his debut during FP1 as Williams has already confirmed his participation as he will replace Alex Albon for that session.
The 37-year-old Polish driver, Robert Kubica, will also get a chance to drive in Spain when he steps into the Alfa Romeo C42 replacing Zhou Guanyu. Juri Vips recently spoke about his highly anticipated debut as he said he would be looking forward to proving his worth as Red Bull has already conveyed to him to not set high goals for himself.
"I am not going to have a certain set goal from Red Bull that I have to win the title or anything like that. I just have to prove I am F1 worthy," he told the Formula 2 website. Red Bull is heading into Spanish GP on the back of impressive performance from Max Verstappen, having won back-to-back races in Imola and Miami.