Sutil convicted over nightclub fracas
F1 driver Adrian Sutil has been convicted on charges of grievous bodily harm arising from an incident in a night club in Shanghai in April 2011.
Former Force India F1 driver Adrian Sutil has been found guilty on charges of grievous bodily harm against Eric Lux, the CEO of Lotus F1 team owners Genii Capital, arising from an incident in a Shanghai nightclub on April 17, 2011.
Sutil has received an 18-month suspended sentence at the end of a two-day trial in Munuch, and also been ordered to pay 200,000 euros (US$262,200) in fines that will be paid to charities of the court’s choosing.
Sutil and Lux were guests at a party to celebrate Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix when the incident occurred. Lux needed two dozen stitches after receiving neck injuries from a champagne glass in Sutil’s hand.
“I’m terribly sorry. I never wanted what happened there to happen,” Sutil told the German court on the first day of the trial, insisting that the injury had been totally “unintentional and accidental.” He added, “I regret the incident very much. It’s a lesson for me.”
CCTV footage from the club had initially appeared to support Sutil’s claims that he was reacting instinctively to push away the other man who had apparently lunged towards him during a heated exchange, and that he only intended to throw the drink at Lux and not to cause any physical harm. However, Sutil’s actions were still deemed sufficiently dangerous and irresponsible enough by the court to result in conviction.
“Pushing someone away with a glass is adventurous and not in line with our experience of life,” argued the prosecutor in the case.
“The defendant knew that he had this glass in his hand,” agreed the judge in her final ruling. “The glass was moving in an intended direction.”
Sutil has previously issued a formal written apology for the incident, but Lux insisted that he had never received the face-to-face apology that he had demanded, which is why he had continued to press on with the legal charges. “A phone call is not enough,” said Lux.
Sutil responded by saying that he had “tried everything” to settle the case out of court, including the offer of a charitable donation and “tens of millions”, but had been rebuffed by Lux.
It’s unclear whether the verdict and the sentence will have an effect on Sutil’s F1 superlicense that enables him to drive an F1 car.
Sutil lost his race seat at Force India to Nico Hulkenberg at the end of the 2011 season and is yet to find a new role in the sport. A Ferrari test driver job has been speculated, but the uncertainty of the trial and now the verdict will not have helped him in his endeavours to get back to active duty.
Sutil’s friend and fellow F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, although he had been present in the club at the time the incident took place, did not give testimony after being excused due to McLaren team commitments.