Posts Tagged ‘force india’

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.

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Did you hear the one about the Grand Prix with a Force India on pole followed by a Toyota and a BMW? The one where the Force India was every bit a match for the might of Ferrari? No, this isn’t the set-up to a joke: it’s the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.

A startling qualifying had left a very confused-looking grid, and much depended on the start. Giancarlo Fisichella got away well from pole position, but Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld bickered over second place, allowing Robert Kubica to take it from them both. All of this gave the initiative to Kimi Raikkonen: Kimi started from 6th place and had to swerve around a stationary Rubens Barrichello wrestling with the Brawn’s anti-stall, and then took an outside line sweeping well into the run-off area out of La Source to give him the best speed up to Eau Rouge, topped off with a dash of KERS to allow him to take the second place from Kubica. It was brilliant, breathless stuff from Raikkonen, marred only when he ran wide into Les Combes, rejoined on track and got a shunt up the backside from the BMW in doing so.

Behind them, bigger problems were brewing: Romain Grosjean misjudged a lunge at Jenson Button into Les Combes, and ended up spinning the Brawn and taking both cars off into the gravel trap and into the tyre wall. In doing to, they collected the cars of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari making a mess of the track (not to mention Button’s world championship hopes) and making a safety car a foregone conclusion.

The safety car also meant that Jarno Trulli, Rubens Barrichello and Adrian Sutil filed onto the pits. Trulli’s clash with Heidfeld had damaged his front wing, and for the rest of the race he was sluggish and at the back of the field until lap 22 when he was finally called into the pits to retire; Sutil meanwhile had banded wheels with Fernando Alonso into La Source, and Barrichello was in after the start line near-stall had dropped him to the back of the running order.

At the restart, Fisichella got a perfect start but Kimi was cool and calm, allowing the leader to get around the hairpin before lining him up for an overtaking move up the hill through Eau Rouge. With the Ferrari engine’s greater power, not to mention the benefit of KERS, Fisi never stood a chance and the Ferrari was in front before the Les Combes hairpin.

That was, in essence, the race. But if anyone was expecting Kimi to race off into a comfortable distant lead, then there was a surprise to come – the Force India stayed clamped to the back of the Ferrari for the remainder of the 44 laps. Fisichella was rarely more than a second off the back of Raikkonen’s car, and when Ferrari were asked “is Kimi taking it easy to save the engine?” the answer was an emphatic “no” – Kimi was going flat out, thank you very much, and it was all he could do to keep Giancarlo’s sticky paws off the lead. The was proved after the final round of pit stops which were a bit sluggish for Force India and cost Fisichella a second back on track; but he quickly ate up that distance in little more than a lap, and it wasn’t until he was back in the dirty turbulent air off the Ferrari at about 0.8s back that he could make no further progress.

With the top positions sewn up, then, the focus of the race became about how Button’s main title rivals were doing. Barrichello had dropped to the back on the first lap, but quickly dispatched the backmarkers and started making his way up through the field. The best possible outcome for him now would be to get back into the tail end of the points, and by the closing laps he was duly up to 7th place – when suddenly smoke started belching out of the back of the Brawn. Were we about to see the team’s first ever double retirement? Race engineer Jock Clear informed Rubens that it wasn’t the engine, it was the oil lines and to keep going, but gently – no mean feat with Nico Rosburg right on your tail. Against hope and expectations, Rubens managed to eke it out the last two laps and crossed the finish line – but by the time the car was on pit lane, the car was literally on fire and needed urgent attention from the nearest extinguishers.

Mark Webber was another of Button’s rivals to have a frustrating day. He was up to fifth after the safety car restart, and was looking good up to the first pit stops. But as he was released from his pit box he narrowly avoided a collision with Nick Heidfeld and a drive-thru penalty was quickly handed down – and rightly so. After that, Webber’s car never seemed quite on the pace again, losing positions on track to both Kubica and Barrichello, and he was left to slog on to the end in a pointless 9th place.

That left Sebastian Vettel carrying the flag for Button’s rivals, and he was rising to the challenge using a long middle stint strategy to put himself right into contention. He was helped by third-placed Fernando Alonso having a problem with his left front wheel during the second round of pit stops, a legacy of damage from his first lap clash with Sutil; a lap later and Alonso was called back to the pits to retire (Renault hardly likely to risk another wheel flying off mid-race which caused such repercussions in Hungary) and third place was Vettel’s ahead of the BMW duo of Kubica and Heidfeld who had been strong and consistent all afternoon.

Once Barrichello had to reign his car in during the closing laps, Heikki Kovalainen was left to steal 6th place with essentially a one-stop strategy. But it was a bad day for Toyota, with Trulli retiring mid-race and Timo Glock – really fast in the first stint of the race – then had a pit stop disaster with refuelling problems that left him well down the running order, a potentially great race completely spoiled.

At the back of the field, sadly, we have to report Luca Badoer: although recording some of the fastest straight line speeds in the speed traps, he simply couldn’t cope with the track as a whole. At one point even Adrian Sutil was able to sweep around him in the Force India and leave Badoer standing. It was a lamentable and indeed embarrassing performance for driver and team, all the more acute given Kimi’s victory at the other end.

Still, who would have predicted a Raikkonen/Fisichella 1-2? A Button/Hamilton first lap retirement? Webber failing to score? Spa proved a throwback to the early races of the season when nothing was predictable and anything could happen, and now we’re right back there. Anyone who felt that the season was going to settle down into a dull affair with Button and Brawn cruising to the titles couldn’t have been more wrong!

Most intriguingly of all, the Force India team were busy refuting the idea that Spa had been a fluke. Wait for Monza in two weeks, they said – another power circuit with long straights. Yes, wait for Monza and see …

Race result

Pos  Driver        Team                      Time
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari                 1h23:50.995
 2.  Fisichella    Force India-Mercedes    +     0.939
 3.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault        +     3.875
 4.  Kubica        BMW Sauber              +     9.966
 5.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber              +    11.276
 6.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes        +    32.763
 7.  Barrichello   Brawn-Mercedes          +    35.461
 8.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota         +    36.208
 9.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault        +    36.959
10.  Glock         Toyota                  +    41.490
11.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes    +    42.636
12.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari      +    46.106
13.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota         +    54.241
14.  Badoer        Ferrari                 +  1:38.177

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:47.263

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                      On lap
Alonso        Renault                   27
Trulli        Toyota                    22
Button        Brawn-Mercedes            1
Grosjean      Renault                   1
Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes          1
Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari        1

World Championship standings after round 12

Considering Jenson Button crashed out on the first lap, this really wasn’t a bad outcome for him – losing only 2pts from his lead over Barrichello as his rivals stuttered in their own campaigns.

However, with Barrichello, Vettel and Webber massing within 5pts of each other in 2nd, 3rd and 4th, this is the last get out of jail free card Button can cash in. If he continues to falter, he’s going to find the dam burst and the flood waters sweep him to one side!

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Button        72        1.  Brawn-Mercedes        128
 2.  Barrichello   56        2.  Red Bull-Renault      104.5
 3.  Vettel        53        3.  Ferrari                56
 4.  Webber        51.5      4.  McLaren-Mercedes       44
 5.  Raikkonen     34        5.  Toyota                 38.5
 6.  Rosberg       30.5      6.  Williams-Toyota        30.5
 7.  Hamilton      27        7.  BMW Sauber             18
 8.  Trulli        22.5      8.  Renault                16
 9.  Massa         22        9.  Force India-Mercedes    8
10.  Kovalainen    17       10.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari      5
11.  Glock         16       
12.  Alonso        16       
13.  Heidfeld      10       
14.  Kubica         8       
15.  Fisichella     8       
16.  Buemi          3       
17.  Bourdais       2




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