Juri Vips will replace fellow Red Bull Formula 1 junior Patricio O’Ward to make his Super Formula debut at the Suzuka season finale next weekend.

Vips finished fourth in the inaugural FIA Formula 3 campaign and notched up three victories while driving for Hitech Grand Prix in the F1-supporting series.

With the F3 season concluding at last month’s Russian Grand Prix, the highly-rated Estonian will make an appearance in Japan’s premier level of single-seater racing. Vips will take the seat of O’Ward at the Honda-powered Mugen squad.

O’Ward himself only replaced Dan Ticktum – who was dropped from the Red Bull young driver programme – after the third round of the season and sits 18th in the standings.

Having been slow to adapt to the challenging series, O’Ward went on to claim a breakthrough result of sixth place at Okayama last time out.

Fresh form securing the final win on offer in the F3 finale at Sochi and being the only non-Prema driver to challenge for the title, Vips will have his latest chance to impress Red Bull’s hierarchy as it considers where to place him for 2020.

A step up to Formula 2 could be on the cards, while Vips may thrust himself into contention for a full-time Super Formula drive in 2020 with a strong showing on his debut.

The decision to drop O’Ward casts doubts over his own future in the Red Bull driver scheme, having only been signed to the programme in May after the 20-year-old Mexican made a promising start to his rookie IndyCar campaign.

 

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