Vips adds Formula Regional Europe to 2020 programme

Rachit Thukral

The campaign will come on top of Vips’ existing commitments in Super Formula, where he will race for the Mugen team alongside two-time race winner Tomoki Nojiri.

No reason was provided to explain the late decision to add a second programme to Vips’ 2020 schedule, although the regional-level F3 series can serve as a back-up in case the Estonian is denied entry into Japan.

Japan has imposed bans on arrivals from over a 100 countries, while travellers from all other regions must serve a mandatory two-week quarantine upon entry.

Former F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen and SUPER GT ace Bertrand Baguette missed last week’s SUPER GT test at Fuji due to the same restrictions, with those two drivers are currently racing against time to make it into Japan prior to the opening round of the season on July 18-19.

The Super Formula season, however, doesn’t begin until August 29-30, giving Vips – who is based in Europe – extra time to sort his travel arrangements.

The Formula Regional Europe season will start earlier, on July 31-August 2, with the second round scheduled for August 21-23 – a week before the Super Formula season opener.

There are currently two clashes between Super Formula and Formula Regional Europe, but it is understood that the Japanese championship will get priority on both occasions.

The Formula Regional Europe series is also expected to boost Vips’ superlicense tally to ensure he is eligible for a Formula 1 seat by 2021.

Vips currently has 25 points in his tally, 15 short of what he needs to be eligible for a superlicense. A third-place championship finish in either category will ensure he has requisite points for the 2021 F1 season.

The 19-year-old has already got his first taste of the Tatuus F3 T-318 car that he will race in the Regional F3 category this season, having participated in the pre-season test at Imola last week.