F1 Winter Break
Sutil to stand trial for wounding Lotus Renault boss in nightclub brawl
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jan 2012   |  10:40 am GMT  |  94 comments

Public prosecutors in Munich, Germany announced on Thursday that former Force India driver Adrian Sutil has been indicted on charges of grevious bodily harm and will face trial at the end of this month on. The trial is slated for the 30th and 31st January.

The German driver was in a nightclub in Shanghai in April celebrating his friend Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Chinese Grand Prix, when an incident occurred with a champagne glass which led to Eric Lux, the co-owner of the Lotus Renault GP team receiving a serious wound to the neck.

Lux went to hospital immediately and was angry that Sutil and his friends left the club without offering assistance or apologising. Sutil did apologise later.

Eric Lux

According to Anno Hecker, a colleague writing for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the charge if proven could carry up to a year in prison.

The case will revolve around CCTV footage from the club and depositions from both sides and from witnesses, which could include Hamilton.

Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmerman has said that the incident was not as it appears and that having had a drink spilled over him, Sutil was intending to do the same to Lux when the glass accidentally made contact with Lux’s neck.

“We are convinced that the court will come to the conclusion that there was no intentional attack,” Zimmerman said. “We feel good. So the truth will come out.”

Sutil was one of the drivers in contention for the vacant seat at Williams this season along with Rubens Barrichello and Bruno Senna. BBC is reporting that Williams insiders say Sutil is no longer on their radar.

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"Sutil is one of the drivers in contention for the vacant seat at Williams this season along with Rubens Barrichello and Bruno Senna."

not any more 🙂



"Sutil WAS one...."


Hmmm, career over?


Yes, agree, even if he is cleared it will not sit well with any of the F1 sponsors especially Williams who will have to 'smooze' a new sponsor anyway


when did it start ? 🙂



Rodger, you have no evidence whatsoever that the incident was a "silly accident", only the word of a manager who's role and goal is now damage limitation. Sutil is going to trial, which will determine if it's how you suggest or not - but the fact the prosecution feels there's evidence to go ahead with a trial indicates it's less than clear cut as a "silly mistake". If proved guilty it's a serious assault that would deserve a prison sentence. I for one would not consider it sad if someone convicted of assault was out of F1 and in prison.


Matt, why do you seem to take such pleasure in Sutil's problems?

He's a decent driver and deserves a seat in F1.

I think he was silly for what happened at the nightclub but by all accounts it was an accident and haven't we all made silly mistakes in our lives before.

I think if he has raced his last F1 race that is a very sad thing and not something to gloat about.


Great work James, you've beaten most of the other motorsport sites getting these details out so quickly this morning. Is this a result of your links with the BBC or your usual contacts being very efficient?


More the links in Germany


The trial is at the end of this month. James do you have any idea how soon a verdict could be reached or the whole thing cleared up?

Was wondering if he was cleared, would it be too late for him to have a chance at the Williams seat or any other that might be available?


Quite quickly one would imagine. But this has to really prejudice his chances of a 2012 seat


Indeed it will.

While there is no excuse for violence of any kind, Eric Lux is a very wealthy man who would be well aware that he is potentially destroying another mans career.

I suspect Lux feels he has lost face, and wants revenge. If that's the case, it's a small mans game...


what a shame if it has ruined his chances of a drive this year but if a McLaren or Ferrari driver breaks his leg Sutil could suddenly be back in the big league.


haha very true Doug!!


If Massa has a bad year...cue banana skins all over the Ferrari pit floor! 🙂


I think it most likely predjudiced him keeping a seat with Force India, since they have been living with this court case and possible prison term since April


When the decision was first leaked long before it was official to drop Sutil for Hulkenberg that was said to be one of the main reasons.

If Bruno does get the seat the crazy thing is there's going to be two drivers (Sutil and Barrichelo) without a drive who are probably easily better than half the drivers on the grid.


Seems odd that he can be prosecuted in Germany for something that was alleged to have happened in Shanghai? Perhaps this prosecution explains why he was dumped by Force India and not picked up by any of the other teams with slots to fill when he appears to be the one with the most talent out of the vacant drivers.


I have a Law Degree from an Irish university and I'm qualified to practice Law in the U.S, but I know nothing about the Civil Law system in place in Germany.

Perhaps another JA reader with knowledge of the German legal system could explain why a tort committed in South East Asia could be pursued in the German courts?


See above. It's the kind of law that exists so that you can be prosecuted if you go to Thailand/Cambodia/wherever to have sex with minors. Even if you commit the crime there, where it's not a crime, you can be prosecuted at home.


@ devils advocate

what abt all the people the yanks have lockedup in guantanimo for over 10years with no charge or chance ofr release what laws protect them?


While that is one case, it is also a law that protects German citizens in foreign countries from unfair biased or corrupt justice systems in a country where they are accused. We yanks have something similar in place and you see it a lot where US citizens get locked up in Latin America where they won't be treated to a fair trial due to rampant corruption and especially if you have money a trial where you are guilty until proven innocent. It makes a lot of sense really.


According to section 7 subsection II of the German penal code any German who commited an act in a foreign country that is punishable by law in that country can be prosecuted in Germany under German law as well.


I wonder if that section was added after WWII? It seems from the discussion here that it is quite unique to Germany.


jmv, don't mention the wa...... 😉


nice investigation!


Ah! That clears that up 🙂


Follow up:

You can read a translation of the applicable section here:


It's definetly a criminal and not a civil case.


Exactly my thoughts. How does a court in Germany suddenly have jurisdiction over an incident in China?

This looks shaky from a legal point of view but all the same, Sutil now appears to be without a drive of anything, let alone F1, until this case is resolved. Or in my humble opinion, thrown out by the German courts.


Apparently there are some things in German law that allow the German prosecution to prosecute crimes done by Germans in other countries if they are not prosecuted there or something.

I do know that back in Belgium for instance, certain types of crimes done by Belgians anywhere in the world can be prosecuted in Belgium as well.

If the German prosecution thought they had no case whatsoever, there would not even be a trial...


Maybe Adrian should've kept his cool and not act childish and try and throw his drink at Lux just because Lux spilled some drink on his shirt.

These are grown men and they should know better.

Also, when an incident like this happens and you injure someone IN THE NECK. you should be the one calling 911 and stay with the person.

That will show that it was unintentional and you are sorry...rather then leaving the club without even apologizing.

Reckless behaviour by Adrian. That's how I see it.


May not have had a chance too, not much for going clubbing but the times I have gone and someone gets rowdy, security usually bounces them before they even get a chance to throw a second punch if not faster, cant imagine they would be more relaxed if someone got stabbed. Granted I wasn't there and most people speculating probably weren't either so we didn't see what happened but I imagine security dealt with Sutil in a way that would at least male it difficult to remain close by to Lux.

Agree with general sentiment though that it's pretty hard to accidentaly (or intentionally) stab someone in the neck if you just stay cool and dont get trashed in the first place.


Isn't this likely to be a civil case with a claim for damages, rather than a criminal case about something which happened in another country? If it was a criminal offence against the law, it took place in China and I'd have thought it would require him to be extradited to answer that, if they wished to pursue it. I don't see the Chinese government asking the Germans if they would kindly prosecute someone on their behalf.

In a civil claim, there'd hardly be a liability to serve any time, just pay damages, if proven. I think the timing is such as to cause Sutil the maximum damage in his career, however.


Hmm, so Sutil intended to throw his drink in Eric Lux's face as retaliation for having a drink spilt on himself. Then the glass breaks and cuts Lux's neck and Sutil leaves without apologising...

That sounds like the worst cover up for a fight I've ever heard!


From a legal point of view, I can't understand how a German Court has jurisdiction on a [allegedly] criminal offence that happened in China. Any German Lawyer in the room could give us an explanation?


I was wondering where this story went?

James, does anyone in Germany know how Lux is explaining the delay in pressing charges?



Didn't Shakespeare write about "the law's delay"? Not a new phenomenon!


Naah, this is fish ; )

If I got 24 stitches in a bar fight, i'd throw the book immediately or not at all.

I'd love to know what happened here...


Yeah, but its not in Lux's hands, is it? Its in the hands of the lawyers.


The timing of the conclusion of this affair is devastating for Sutil.

Lux being injured to the neck is pretty bad, but ceasing to be a Grand Prix driver over some nightclub celebration gone wrong is even worse.. at least in my book it is, having worked in nightclubs for years.

I hope Williams will be patient and sign Sutil when this gets dismissed by the (German!?) court.


Impossible for Williams to sign him knowing he could end up going to prison at the end of the month even if that outcome is unlikely. Shame. Hope he doesn't turn doesn't turn out to be another Bertrand Gachot!


in the charge filed by Lux, is Hamilton seen as an accomplice in the assault?


nope, but a witness


Hi James,

It would seem that F1 drivers are becoming acquainted with the idea of going to prison of late, JJ Lehto for a speedboat crash which claimed the life of his friend, Sutil possibly, and apparently Jos "The Boss" Verstappen is in trouble.

Regardless of what happens to Sutil, the timing could not be worse after his solid conclusion to the 2011 season, the news of the trial is surely the only explanation for his non-signing at Williams.

It beckons as a long road back to Formula One for Adrian from here doesn't it?


Whatever caused this, the Demon Drink or fate, Lux is a [mod] for timing this so to crush Sutil's career.


Hold on, let him be tried first.

He may be guilty of nothing more than a moment's clumsiness. I'm sure that if he'd intentionally and maliciously wounded Lux he'd have brought to justice long ago.


Yes. Will be very difficult


I would think this simplifies things for Williams.

I also guess that this has probably been rumbling along in the background all year, and that Force India must have had some awareness and that it would have been a contextual factor in not signing him. Don't get me wrong, I think FI made the right decision on driving terms, but it won't have helped Sutil.

Re the quote: "...when the glass accidentally made contact with Lux’s neck"...hmmmm. Anyone else reminded of the Blackadder episode where someone was said to have "...accidentally, brutally stabbed himself while shaving..."


Or committed suicide by shooting himself in the back - three times?


James, the timing seems odd that Eric Lux would wait until this point to prosecute. Was he waiting for confirmation that Sutil is no longer in F1 before proceeding? - or some other reason?


I'm not sure Lux would have had anything to do with it - it's the Germans who decide whether/when to prosecute.


Bad news from Sutil but good for Rubens!


You mean good for Senna ...!!


Surely the case will be thrown out? German prosecutors need to get the CCTV footage, the police reports, witness statments (keep in mind some of these might require translation) and above all the incident took place on Chinese soil... I can't see anything coming of it.


Paul, the issues you state are probably the reason it has taken this long to get to trial.


The thing is, it could drag on for a long time in court (all next season maybe) and no sponsor will touch Sutil while this is going on. He's a pariah now.


I just hope whichever way it is (guilty or innocent) that the truth does come out and everyone can move on. If Sutil did intentionally strike Lux with a broken glass, then he must bear the consequences. But if it were just an unfortunate accident, then I hope this resolves quickly enough that Sutil has some chance of rescuing 2012... Perhaps not in F1, but maybe in some other motorsport + reserve driver role?


What a shame. James, do you suppose Williams will await the outcome or make their driver decision sooner?


Sounds like Bruno Senna is very close to it now.


Shame - should've been Ruby


"I think MarkF1 is referring to Senna’s decision to drive for the team (car) in which his uncle Aryton died."

So he should turn down a race seat just because of something which happened back in 1994?

Thats just silly, OK Ayrton died in a Williams but I don't see why that should affect Bruno's career.


A disgraceful decision by Bruno and his Mother.


I think MarkF1 is referring to Senna's decision to drive for the team (car) in which his uncle Aryton died.


Why what have they done?


Good on him! Thanks for the info James. Is there any chance of Sutil being in F1 as a reserve driver next year?

Hamilton's Funny Pants

How you can almost deadly wound someone with a severe cut accidentaly while merely pointing with a bottle of champagne is a mystery.

Those things don't break easily, thick glass (see after the podium celeberations drivers dropping it to the mechanics below, who sometimes drop it on the ground and it's still not broken).


Champagne glass, different matter


James, Can you provide a little insight into Adrian Sutil as a person? In his interactions with the Indian public during his forays to India as a Force India driver he seemed a very urbane, nice guy.

How is he regarded in the paddock? Is this kind of behavior consistent with his persona? If he is found "not guilty" would he be accepted back?


How come German courts have jurisdiction in China?


The complaint was brought in Germany, as I understand it because you can do that if an alleged offence involving a German citizen happens abroad. I'm looking into that.


But doesn't Sutil live in Switzerland? He'd need to be extradited to Germany unless he chose to go there of his own free will.

He could renounce his German citizenship 😉


That's excactly right.

The answer lies in section 7 Subsection II Nr. 1.) of the german penal code.

You can find a translation of the applicable code here:



can you find the court documents online somewhere (since you seem to know whee to look, and perhaps sprechen zie deutsch)?


is he standing trial, has been charged and being prosecuted, or is his case being assessed for trial?

i'm seeing conflicting reports elsewhere.


He's standing trial at the end of this month. According to the BBC the prosecutors are pushing for a suspended prison sentence, which would obviously be better for Sutil in terms of being able to race but still bad in terms of being a criminal conviction...


For one, if he is convicted, some countries may not even let him to race as there are countries that are very strict on visitors with criminal records.

Japan is definitely one example. They didn't let Paris Hilton in on a marketing campaign for instance as she had been convicted on a drug-related offense in the US before.

If you visit here, in Singapore, you have a checkbox on the immigration form whether or not you have ever been convicted on criminal charges as well. It might be quite difficult to get to the race in Singapore as well. And I wouldn't be surprised some other countries would be difficult too.


Sad that this will probably end his career, great potential that will never be properly realised.


In 2012 Sutil will be busy on the wheels -- inside a courtroom.


I have no idea how strong the case would need to be before it would even get to court in Germany but I hope the outcome will be clear, unequivocal and not fudged or leaving doubt.

Sutil will need a very strong 'not guilty' verdict in order to have any realistic chance of resuming his career at F1 level. Think back to how Enge's or the young Scheckter's non-violent errors of judgement totally destroyed their F1 aspirations. They were, of course, both 'guilty' but mud sticks ... well, mostly!


So if the Germans are prosecuting can Lux go on the stand & say it was a mistake & settle out of court


The problem with the defence that he was trying to spill a drink on Lux is that an accidental coming together with his neck and glass would not result in a wound so severe that he needed 24 stitches to put him back together.

24 stitches is a large wound. Not something that I could imagine as being accidental (unless you lost your balance and fell into the other person with the glass between you and their neck).

For comparison, about 10 years ago myself and girlfriend were attacked by yobs in a car throwing spanners (at 1AM in the morning). The spanner that hit my girlfriend's foot and bounced up and into her leg, cut a gash in her leg (through her jeans). We found the spanner. 8" or more. Large. Heavy.

She ended up in hospital, plastic surgeon called out to give his opinion. Did she need 24 stitches? No, a lot less. And she had a hole in her leg (and still has a visible depression in that leg to this day).

Doesn't sound right to me. Not that I have all the facts, just what you reported.


Could it be that they were tiny stitches done by a posh plastic surgeon so as to minimise the risk of scarring, so that Lux didn't end up with a big scar like your unfortunate girlfriend did?


I have to agree, 24 stitches would make for a very long and deep cut. In that area of the body also would have left something quite noticeable.

I have no idea if Lux is stated as having 24 stitches but if he's lying and using that as a point to charge Sutil then that 'truth' will come out.


I've always been a little surprised why many here seem to rate Sutil as much as they seem to.

He's shown a few flashes of speed over the years but has been in F1 since 2007 & not really shown improvement in that time.

People still go back to that drive at Monaco in 2008 yet fail to look at the point that he was never going to finish 4th or in the points as the stewards were going to give him a post race penalty for passing cars to move to 4th under a yellow flag.



I think Adrian's done a decent enough job but I too don't really understand why he's as highly rated as he is. DiResta's arrival seemed to put a rocket up Sutil's behind; being beaten by a rookie spurred him to a level he hadn't reached until then. Why didn't he perform like that before?


I just want to point out that probably Williams know which driver they want by now. Decision making does not take that long usually, so it looks like Williams are waiting for something. Assuming that the outcome of sutil's trial will be quick, it matches perfectly that Williams wait for the outcome of this trial and that their preffered choice of a driver is Sutil


James do you not think that Williams are harming their chances in taking so long to name their other driver? While it must be nice for them to be centre of attention again surely they are harming the driver's chance to gel with his pit crew and shape the car's handling to his own style.


Not really. As long as he has enough pre-season test mileage should be fine.


This may be the reason S.Force India decided not to keep him?


24 stitches will not bode well for Sutil. Just hope he will come out of this and not receive any jail sentence.

Stroke of bad luck IMHO. All the best to you Adrain.


Sure Sutil is German, but the crime was committed in China so shouldn't the Chinese be the ones prosecuting Sutil ?


Ever googled Sutil? What's the first search google suggests? So whatcha think Eric Lux said that upset Sutl so much? I think that's what happened... Sad story but F1 career over. Maybe a chance in the land of 2nd chances, the US.




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