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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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!


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???


Hello, everyone.

I’ll just say it:

How do you accidentally glass someone in the neck?

I am genuinely intrigued.


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.


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?

Adrian Newey Jnr

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?


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.


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.

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


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.


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?


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… 🙂


See my post 24 below for some light on the subject


Absolutely agree.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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!


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.


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



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?


He could if someone would offer one


Which they wont!


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.


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…


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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 ????


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?


“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.


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.


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.


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?


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!


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!


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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…


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


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!


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


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.


Means he won’t go to prison.


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?


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.

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