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Sutil found guilty, gets suspended sentence
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Jan 2012   |  5:48 pm GMT  |  83 comments

Former Force India driver Adrian Sutil has been in Munich this week appearing before public prosecutors charged with grievous bodily harm surrounding an incident with the co-owner of the Lotus F1 team in a Shanghai nightclub last April, and on Tuesday the court found the German driver guilty and gave him an 18-month suspended sentence.

The 29-year-old was also handed a 200,000 euro (£166,139) fine, which will be paid to charities, according to the BBC.

The two-day trial had centred around an incident following last year’s Chinese Grand Prix when Sutil had been in a nightclub celebrating his close friend Lewis Hamilton’s victory in that Sunday’s race. Eric Lux, the Luxembourg-born chief executive of the Genii Capital investment company that owns the team formerly known as Lotus Renault GP, had also been in attendance at the venue and sustained cuts to his neck, which Sutil has now been convicted of causing by a broken glass.

Speaking in court on Monday, Sutil had revealed he had tried to settle the row out of court with Lux and was very sorry the incident had ever occurred, reiterating that he hadn’t intended to injure him.

“I did everything to try to settle this row,” Sutil was quoted as saying by Reuters. “I am really sorry, extremely sorry. I never wanted for this to happen.”

Lux, however, in his own evidence to the court had said: “A phone call is not good enough.”

Away from the court case and Sutil had already been left in something of a career limbo, as despite a strong end to the 2012 season, Force India decided to drop him in favour of countryman Nico Hulkenberg, who impressed in the role of third driver.

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83 Comments
  1. Richard says:

    A pity it had to come to this, regardless of Sutil’s intent. Lux clearly wanted his pound of flesh and got it, so it will be an object lesson indeed for Sutil. In reality I suppose there must have been provocation so Lux really must shoulder some of the actual blame, but of of course shoving a glass into someone’s neck is no way to behave, and I suppose they are both lucky the injury was not more serious, possibly life threatening with potentially dire consequences. I’m afraid Sutil got what he deserved.

    1. Davexxx says:

      Please read my comment further down (No.20 or thereabouts) that sheds some light on the incident. I think Sutil is much less guilty than people have been guessing.

    2. Nathan says:

      Couldn’t agree more

  2. Colin says:

    Why was the case held in Germany if the offence was in Shanghai?

    Also what is the reference to Hamilton not appearing that is quoted elsewhere?

    1. DMyers says:

      Because German law means that German citizens accused of crimes anywhere in the world (I think) can be tried in Germany.

      1. Randy Torres says:

        Ok so does that mean that the Chinese authorities relinquished their jurisdiction, or was it that he wasn’t charged in China? He could still be liable in China.

  3. Stuart Fenton says:

    Straight to the point. Has anyone got any video of this? Apparently it shows Sutil acting in self defense. I am sure it will pop up on You’ve Been Framed soon enough.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      What a ridiculous comment if that was the case dont you think it would clearly be used in Sutil’s defence to at least get the thrown out or get clear clarification to the public that it was in self defence regardless of how serious his reaction was to at least get public understanding??

      1. John tsoutis says:

        I don’t think this would be considered self defence because Sutil used effectively a weapon where there is no mention of Lux possessing something to attack with. Self defence is considered only when it’s like against like. But I imagine the interpretation of this law is different around the world but effectively Lux was unarmed.

    2. mike church says:

      “The German driver told the court on Monday that he had “tried everything” to settle the case out of court, offering “tens of millions” and a charitable donation but was turned down by Lux.”

      Very few people offer up “tens of millions” when they’re the innocent party…

      1. MrNed says:

        “Very few people offer up “tens of millions” when they’re the innocent party…”

        Maybe you’re right, but I don’t think it’s a safe assumption to make: Any lawyer (or police officer or prison warder) will tell you that there are plenty of people who are found guilty of a crime but who in reality have not acted in a morally deficient or negligent manner – they’ve simply fallen foul of the letter of the law, and the rigid way in which it is defined. An F1 driver, then, facing a case that may go against him (thus scuppering a potentially lucrative F1 career), is almost bound to consider paying a lot of money to avoid the risk of losing the case… I know I would!

      2. kevin green says:

        ten’s of millions?? Behave!

      3. mike church says:

        That was a quote from an Associated Press article. Yet then I read elsewhere that Adrian claimed Lux was demanding “double figure millions” to not pursue the case through the courts.

        Which I agree sounds more plausible.

    3. DC says:

      i understand that there was a video, and that it was to be shown in the courtroom. The fact that he has been found guilty probably suggests that the video showed that he did attack Lux, not just defend himself.

      1. kevin green says:

        And thats exactly why Hamilton back tracked Being good mates or even family only goes so far.
        Evidence is evidence and that raises even bigger questions about Hamilton and the type of person he is?
        It would appear he was intending on going to back up his mate til near the last minute based on his what must have been apparent clear account on events? then he suddenly backtracks out of the situation??.
        So that would imply that Hamilton was most probably going to lie for Sutil? now that is real food for thought especially considering it turns out there was a video of evidence.

  4. philip says:

    Unbelievable.

    Of course I don’t know either person and I was not there, but…

    Even if the absolute worst version of the event occurred, this is completely unjust.

    Just imagine Sutil came up behind him and attacked with no warning. It happens in pubs and on street corners every night.

    Doesn’t Lux have a single reasonable friend to tell him that he is an idiot?

    What a loser.

    In return, I’m not sure he will ever have another girlfriend or employer who respects him, just one who wants his money or connections. He gets what he deserves.

    1. [MISTER] says:

      I read somewhere that Adrian Sutil pushed Lux while holding the champagne glass. Stop thinking about weird scenarios like coming from behind and stuff like that. It wasn’t premeditated.

      And why is Lux a loser? Even if he and Sutil had an argument which started the whole thing, Sutil should know better at his age that pushing and getting into a fight is bad news.

    2. Martin P says:

      You’re not allowed out in public on your own I hope?

      The only unbelievable bit is that he escaped with a suspended sentence. I thought soft-sentencing was a British phenomenon so Mr Sutil should consider himself a lucky boy to evade incarceration for such an offence.

      1. Matt says:

        So you think that in the absolute worst scenario-which is assault requiring immediate hospital treatment-it is unjust for Lux to want more than an apology? He didn’t even get that.

        If you got stabbed in the neck with broken glass, it will be convenient to be your friend. You would just shake hands with your attacker and part ways. In the back of an ambulance. Then do nothing about it. Pull the other one.

  5. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    James, we never know the story before the glass was threw it, is it something it was said to Sutil?

    Is there another trial comming against Sutil for a big compensation in money (maybe the fine is just an additional part to the sentence and not a definitive compensation).

    Can Sutil become musician?

  6. Sebee says:

    Well, there goes that Ferrari ride he’s been dreaming about.

    “Hello, Ferrari of Munchen – I’m going to have to ask for my deposit back on that red 458. Sorry, have other priorities.”

  7. gonzeche says:

    It appears that Sutil got what he needs rather than what he wants! It’s hard to judge what really happened in China, but I really can’t feel any sympathy for someone who ‘even offered charity efforts in Africa in a bid to draw a line under the matter’ (autosport). I wonder if he will take the spare time he now has to care about something else than his ego!

  8. fausta says:

    It is too bad Sutil was never able to show what he could do in better machinery.
    But with the log jam of drivers there has to be some that get the short end.
    But it seems Lux could have been appeased by Sutil just meeting him in person and one wonder’s why Adrian never took that opportunity?

    1. gonzeche says:

      Obviously he never regreted it genuinely (for the harm on Lux) but for the damage to his own career. A further proof of this is the fact that Lux took it so far, sensing that Sutil doesn’t really feel sorry for the act itself but only for the consequences.

  9. xyz says:

    What does suspended sentence actually means, guys can anyone of you kindly explain elaborately?

    1. [MISTER] says:

      Means he won’t go to prison.

    2. David Young says:

      I believe suspended sentence means no jail time and if he can stay out of trouble for 18 months his criminal record is erased.

      1. Clinton says:

        Where I am from a suspended sentence doesn’t mean that the criminal record is erased after that time. You don’t go to jail, provided you keep your hands clean for the suspended period, but you will always have the fact that you have been convicted of a crime in your criminal record.

        It may make visiting certain countries more difficult.

    3. Kevin Green says:

      If he head butt’s somebody down at his local he is going down for at least a few month’s court translation to Sutil keep off the drink or the sniffy stuff it clearly aint for you son!

    4. Brad says:

      He doesn’t go to jail but if found guilty of a similiar offence during his 18 months of suspension, he will serve that particular sentence. Something like that…

      1. Brad says:

        it normally goes hand in hand with a fine, like the artcle states. This sort of thing happens alot in South Africa.

    5. Rob Newman says:

      If he commits a similar crime within 18 months, then he will go to jail.

    6. jamieb says:

      basically he escapes the sentence if he stays out of trouble, if not he will do the 18months

    7. hero_was_senna says:

      Suspended sentence normally means that the judge deems an offence punishable by prison but maybe because Sutil admitted guilt or a first offence, the judge feels that the sentence can be suspended.
      Suspension normally lasts for the period of time, ie. in this case for 2 years, and if he were to commit another crime during that time, he would be imprisoned immediately.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I mis-read, 18 months, Doh!!!

      2. boozie says:

        In Germany you have to distinguish between the sentence (18 months jailtime) and the suspension period which in this case is 3 years.
        So if he gets another conviction within the 3 years period he is likely to have to go to jail for 18 months.

  10. Kevin Green says:

    Thats the end of his F1 career in any way or form i would as i expected and would certainly imagine. Demon Drink!!!

  11. goferet says:

    Argh! CEOs’ get away with everything for all we know, Eric Lux could be a member to the same gentleman’s club as that judge in Berlin plus he could have also influenced the F1 team principles to deny Sutil a drive in 2012 (Helloooooo, this is the man that beat the rookie of the year 2011)

    Meh, I miss good ol’ days when disputes (between blokes) were settled with fits & it ended there but nowadays it’s all about squeezing money out of people and hence lawsuits fly all over the place —> What a shame.

    No doubt that Eric character has a massive chip on his shoulder (like all CEOs do) for he wasn’t even satisfied with an apology over the phone but wanted to see Sutil in person on all fours, he should get over himself already I say.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      He would not have to influence the other team principles common sense would have told all concerned in F1 to steer clear until the case is done and dusted and it looks very much like Force India did very well to get rid (from a publicity point of view) and the rests of the teams also for steering clear! Indy car for sutil this season i thinks!

    2. MISTER says:

      Maybe you live in the jungle where disputes are settled with fists, but here, in the modern and civilized world we stay away from that.
      Why would Lux, after getting injured, have to settle for a phone apology? Sutil has to show some respect and apologize like gentlemen do, face to face. This shows that you mean it.

      This clearly shows that Sutil never intended to sincerely apologize. I am sure his lawyer and friends must’ve advised him to do it face to face, but for the looks of it, he didn’t take the advice.

      I have no doubt in my mind that Sutil never intended to injure anyone, but since it happened, you have to show that you didn’t want this to happen. What better way to show that then a face to face apology?

      1. kevin green says:

        Oh he would have fully intended it at the time i would think Mister just did not actually know it himself i.e. he was under the influence of alcohol or whatever at the time and i think the suspended sentence reflects that basically a statement from the judge that any for of intoxication is clearly not for him. I reckon if it had became clear that he had not been drinking or likewise that evening he would have been more likely to have done a little bit of time but considerably less than what the suspended sentence actually is.
        You could call it a conviction with guidance!

  12. Tim says:

    “I did everything to try to settle this row,” Sutil was quoted as saying by Reuters.

    Apparently everything doesn’t include manning up and apologising face to face.

    F1 is not missing anything without Sutil on the grid.

    1. Martin P says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Doing all he can would mean pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity. What he means is he tried to squirm out of it as best he could but his victim, quite understandably, wouldn’t drop the charges.

  13. Darren says:

    What he did was wrong , but Lux behavior in trying to get Sutil to miss a race etc has to be seen as blackmail, I would be looking at taking him to curt for this? Lux cannot get away with that ????

    1. MISTER says:

      hahahahah, you’re cracking me up.

      Sutil has missed on a race seat by injuring Lux in the first place Darren.

      If some guy is stabbing you in the neck and you take him to court and he loses his job, how would you feel if that guy then sues you for losing his job? You think that is fair?

  14. Rob Newman says:

    The court ruling is silly. I don’t think Sutil wanted to harm Lux in anyway. It was an accident. Lux is a dirty fellow. He has probably ended Sutil’s F1 career. Shame. Let’s see how long Lux is going to survive in F1.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Dont believe that for a second if Lux was in anyway exaggerating etc someone would have stood up and said There would certainly have been justification in not just the trial but also the conviction in this case particularly due to the profile and the likes of the witnesses who would have there would doubt it would have been a grudge match/brownie points type scenario so to speak nobody that would have been a witness at the night out yet alone court would dare lie in anyway due the the likely repercussions if caught out, Think about it for a minute folks!

      1. Liam in Sydney says:

        Who cares if Lux was exaggerating? He was cut with a glass, accidentally or deliberately. It’s at his discretion whether to press the charges or not. He chose to. What’s wrong with that?

        Just say it was you who got cut by someone’s glass at a bar, wouldn’t you feel you had the right to do something about it, like get the police onto them?

        You can hardly feel too sorry for Sutil. But what I suppose we really need is details of the case transcript to know what was said.

    2. Chris Bird says:

      Obviously the evidence was clear. Lewis didn’t even need to turn up and testify because his lawyers advised that it was clear that Sutil was culpable and would be found guilty. Sutil, however talented, has proved to be an erratic hot head in the races and this judgement seems ‘light’ in the fact that he glassed someone in the neck. He should be thankful that he can pay a fine of $200k plus and keep out of jail. His plea’s of innocence always seemed fake….just deserts

  15. hero_was_senna says:

    For the life of me I cannot grasp how anybody on these forums finds Sutil innocent or Lux is culpable. Maybe there was a confrontation, but that doesn’t excuse Sutil’s actions.

    What Sutil committed was grevious or actual bodily harm. Why, simply because he’s a F1 driver should we turn the other cheek?
    JJ Lehto was imprisoned recently for causing a fatal boating accident whilst drunk. Should he be let off because he was an F1 driver?

    It beggars belief…

    1. Wu says:

      I was going to write a similar outraged comment but you beat me to it.

      It’s one thing to come to aid of one’s favoured driver after an on-track incident, but it’s another thing entirely when a grievous bodily harm court case is involved. In moments like these, objectivity shows true character.

  16. Rob G says:

    Can never understand why high profile athletes/celebrities put themselves in these positions. They’ve got so much to lose but I guess they’ve got huge egos too. Bad luck for Sutil who I was beginning to rate towards the end of the season especially.

  17. Wu says:

    James, is there any rule concerning F1 drivers and criminal convictions? Could Sutil still get a drive even with this suspended sentence?

    The reason I ask is if Massa implodes mid-way this year, and Kubica is not available, could Ferrari hire him as the second driver?

    1. James Allen says:

      He could if someone would offer one

      1. kevin green says:

        Which they wont!

  18. Werewolf says:

    If there’s one thing I cannot stand it’s wilful stupidity by supposedly intelligent people. If Sutil was, as alleged by Lux, indeed aware that a face-to-face apology might have settled this farrago then he is the architect of his own misfortune.

    Now let’s look forward to the first tests!

    1. MrNed says:

      “Now let’s look forward to the first tests!”

      +1!

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      In my experience, very few people have the “balls” to apologise face to face.
      It’s been the only way I can deal with people, but astonishingly, people always thank me for it because it’s happened so rarely in their pasts.

      I have ego and some degree of arrogance, but I’m also aware of courtesy and rights and wrongs.
      Sutil has never struck me as particularly intelligent, but as a F1 driver he’s not alone in this.
      Maybe being a privileged, wealthy pampered F1 driver goes to some people’s heads.

  19. Dave B says:

    I still find it very hard to beleive that Sutil simply had a brain snap and decided that stabbing Lux in the neck with a glass was a good idea. JA, any idea what Lux said/did to Sutil to provoke him?

    1. thomas says:

      No matter what was said to provoke Sutil, glassing someone is NOT acceptable behaviour. Soft sentence.

      1. Dave B says:

        Please dont get me wrong. I am not at all suggesting that ‘glassing’ someone is acceptable. All I am trying to point out that the media (globally) has reported a very one sided story.

  20. Think both Sutil and Lux are to lose with this media bubble surrounding them. They should’ve kept quiet and resolved things between them. It’s a bit like Piquet Jr. situation really.

    You misbehave sometimes but the world won’t stop turning if no one finds out about yer adventures. There are worse crimes to commit.

    Mean, we’ll probably see Sutil heading the same direction as Quick Nick.

  21. captainj84 says:

    innocent until proven guilty……….and sutil has been proven, wait for it, GUILTY! so enough of these comments saying it must have been Lux’s fault through provocation, rubbish! A punch could be classed as a red mist moment but a glass to the neck, that is way more serious. IMO he’s lucky not to get a custodial sentence.

    1. Mike84 says:

      Not commenting on this verdict since I don’t know WHAT happened, but…

      “innocent until proven guilty” is a myth.

      And most of what gets decided in courts has not really been proven, someone just won the game.

  22. MrNed says:

    It seems to me that most people’s opinions on this matter are based on pure speculation and supposition. As-and-until we hear some reports about what actually happened in the minutes and seconds leading up to “the incident”, any opinion is pointless: If you’re outraged at Sutil then you’re outraged by your own supposition of what happened. If you say that Lux has been operating an evil Machiavellian plot against Sutil then the only thing you’re actually saying is that you have a rather Machiavellian imagination!

    The only thing that we know FOR SURE is that a German court has found Sutil culpable for the injury sustained by Mr Lux… this says NOTHING of the circumstances surrounding the incident, only that Sutil is culpable under German law.

    Now, of course, if our generous host Mr Allen wants to dig up the full story and tell his fans all about it… :-)

    1. Scott C says:

      Absolutely agree.

    2. Davexxx says:

      See my post 24 below for some light on the subject

  23. Leftie says:

    I think Lux pushed the matter right to the court, knowing it would most likely end Sutil’s career in F1. And he was right. That’s CEO-style right there, if you ask me.

    Sutil surely talked to Lux in person to try to apologize and to settle the dispute at least few times before trial. It would be a complete nonsense if he didn’t – with so much at stake for him.

    So i think the result is, ultimately, Eric’s revenge. Not the sentence – the F1 career being axed. I don’t think we’ll see Adrian drive F1 car anymore, although i would certainly loved to see him drive it again.

    1. MISTER says:

      It would seem the obvious thing to most of us to apologize face to face, but I don’t think that happened.
      If it did, how can Lux tell the court that all he wanted was a face to face apology?

  24. Davexxx says:

    I’m surprised no-one else has yet explained the matter in a bit more detail. Adam Cooper on the Speed TV website says they saw CCTV footage of the incident: Sutil and Hamilton were seated and Lux was standing talking to them, then went to grab Sutil by the arm, as if trying to pull him out of the chair. Sutil in ‘self defence’ used his other hand trying to stop him, which happened to be holding a glass which then broke against Lux.

    http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/f1-adrian-sutil-found-guilty-in-german-court/

    I feel sorry for Sutil, it sounds like his F1 career has been destroyed by Lux.

  25. Garry T says:

    People watch to much TV

    Court is all about the facts and procedure.

    Did Sutil assault Lux obviously yes was there mitigating circumstance unlikely, a $200,000 fine would suggest the judge wasn’t thinking there was.Generally a suspended sentence would be enough for a first offence

    All other issues about apologies and offers are superficial to a court case of common assault causing bodily harm.

    The question on Chinese police is simple why would they bother it was foreigners who are leaving anyway. its to high profile

    Lux didn’t complain here in China straight away, and if the Police had attended Sutil would have been locked up straight away for 15 days no questions asked before he even got in front of a court

    The police are inherently lazy here they will only do it if they have too.

    They are too busy doing more meaningful things like extorting money and watching TV.

  26. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – regardless of the incident, is there any truth to the rumour that had the top level FI seat for next year anyway and given the Mercedes money linked to Di Resti, Sutil was going to leave FI this year regardless? Perhaps the incident has been used by FI as a way to get out of his contract?

  27. fastpete says:

    Did anyone else see the response from Sutil claiming that he had in fact attempted to splash the contents of the glass in Lux’s face, but misjudged the distance, which caused the glass to break and stab Lux in the neck?

  28. Forzaminardi says:

    Who knows what really happened and who really got what they deserved, but I find it odd that 7the main thing Lux seems to have said is that he took it this far because Sutil didn’t come and apologise face to face. Aw diddums.

    Flippant comment, but it occurs to me that perhaps both parties got what they deserved.

  29. David Goss says:

    Hello, everyone.

    I’ll just say it:

    How do you accidentally glass someone in the neck?

    I am genuinely intrigued.

  30. Pete says:

    Sutil is furious with Lewis Hamilton and tells the German tabloid “Bild”:

    “Lewis is a coward. I don’t want to be friends with somebody like that. To me , he is not a man. Even his father sent me a text message wishing me good luck for the court case. There was nothing from Lewis. He changed his mobile-number, I could not even reach him anymore”

    Hamilton , apparently, was present when Sutil attacked Lux, but did not want to attend the court hearing. Instead he sent some written statement.

    Sutil and Hamilton had been friends for a long time, dating back to their early racing days, but it seems, this is now finished.

    http://www.bild.de/sport/motorsport/adrian-sutil/nach-der-verurteilung-zoff-mit-feigling-hamilton-22383018.bild.html

    1. kevin green says:

      Yeah and i think you would find its more so Hamilton has distanced himself from Sutil clearly on hindsight of evidence Hamilton has been advised to keep well clear if Sutil had been inocent by Hamiltons reckoning for sure Mclaren would have backed him to be there for obvious reasons. Something was defo up that night. Did i mention the demon alcohol???

    2. F1Fan4Life says:

      I’m not sure why so many are condemning Sutil, even the sentence clearly shows that he certainly did not plot and attack Lux. To me it sounds, at worst, that it was a drunken accident. I’m more interested in Hamilton the “coward”… Why did he not bother testifying as a witness and not even contact Sutil as a friend?

      1. kevin green says:

        like i said Hamilton would have been offering to help his “mate” out by statement in court until it became clear of video evidence or conflicting evidence which would have brought a rethink, so like i said it does not say too much about the personality that is Lewis Hamilton if it appears so he eas going to lie in court!

      2. Pete says:

        Sutil attacking anybody sounds VERY fishy; he is the most quietly spoken and “civilized” driver of them all. His parents are professional classical musicians, he himself is a trained concert pianist and the most metrosexual of the drivers. Something must have happened that night.

        As for Hamilton: bizarrely, he said in his written statement that he had NOT seen ANYTHING. Yet, he was apparently sitting NEXT to Sutil.

        Maybe the McLaren guys do not want him to be involved in court cases and told him to keep stumm. But this incident may very well have destroyed Sutil’s career. Lewis’ behaviour is rather shabby. At least, call Sutil, explain yourself and wish him all the best, irrespective of what happened that night.

      3. kevin green says:

        I reckon he did do it Pete a reaction of the horrible legal poison that makes different people act/respond in different ways at any random time ALCHOHOL, But you are still held accountable for your actions??
        I think the conviction sentence reflected this as in the suspended sentence? reckon that was a warning to him that it aint for him and to seriously consider staying off it (or whatever it was) period.
        I completely agree it would probably have been out of character otherwise we would be now reading articles about his troublesome wild past in the papers etc by now
        And back to that night there’s never smoke without fire.
        Now for me the bigger issue in all this is not Sutil it is Hamilton for the fact he clearly made the decision until very near court day (were talking months the reflect) that he was going to back Sutil with his version of events, Even more amplified by Sutil’s post court day outburst. So who is the real bad guy in all this taking into accountability state of mind etc from time of event and up until now?.
        To even consider backing up/defending someone in such wild unthinkable actions is unbelievable especially at the profile level these a guys are at.

  31. JohnBt says:

    There are 2 sides to a coin. It’s really hard to pass judgement. We will never know the truth. Seems to me Lux wants Sutil career in F1 to end. Would have been worse if Sutil had to sit behind bars.

    I feel Hamilton knew exactly what happened and why didn’t he show up, now that’s a puzzle.

    Anyway it’s less than 50 days to the first race, I’m really looking forward to that.

  32. Jonathan says:

    It’s impossible for a convicted criminal to compete in F1, right? They would not be allowed entry to some countries.

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