Red Bull have confirmed that junior driver Juri Vips will be behind the wheel of the RB18 during FP1 at the Spanish Grand Prix.
As part of a new ruling for the 2022 campaign, each team must field a ‘rookie’ driver in two FP1 sessions during the season, such a driver being one with less than two grands prix of experience in Formula 1.
Formula 2 star and Red Bull Junior Team member Vips fits that bill and will be behind the wheel of the RB18 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, replacing Sergio Perez for FP1.
It will be a golden opportunity for Vips to test himself up against the reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, since FP1 in Spain will allow for a direct comparison against his team-mate for that session.
2020-21 Formula E champion Nyck de Vries is also going to be in FP1 action, Williams confirming that he will take the place of Alex Albon for that session.
Robert Kubica will contest FP1 for Alfa Romeo in the place of Zhou Guanyu, though that is as part of his reserve driver role, as he comfortably exceeds the ‘rookie’ criteria.
Vips spoke recently of the expectations which the Red Bull programme has set for him this season.
He has not been told that he must win the 2022 Formula 2 title, but instead must prove that he is ready for Formula 1. A solid FP1 showing in Spain would go some way to proving that.
“I don’t have a certain set goal from Red Bull that I have to win the title or anything. I just have to prove I am F1 worthy,” he told the Formula 2 website.
Red Bull head into the Spanish Grand Prix with all the momentum, Verstappen having won back-to-back races in Imola and Miami, cutting the lead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the top of the Drivers’ Championship to 19 points.
And with Perez also finding form, claiming P2 in Imola and P4 at the Miami Grand Prix, Red Bull have been able to reduce Ferrari’s Constructors’ Championship lead to six points.
The momentum could well swing again though at the Spanish Grand Prix, with Ferrari one of several teams planning to introduce a sizeable upgrade package.
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