Adrian Sutil Convicted of Assault Charge: Is His Formula 1 Career Over?

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2012

NURBURG, GERMANY - JULY 21:  Adrian Sutil of Germany and Force India attends the drivers press conference during previews to the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 21, 2011 in Nurburg, Germany.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Adrian Sutil has been convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to Lotus (then Renault) director Eric Lux in a Shanghai nightclub last April.

The incident involving a champagne glass left Lux bleeding from a neck wound which required  24 stitches.  The German driver was handed an 18-month suspended sentence and fined €200,000 (£167,224; $264,092) by a Munich court.

Sutil had admitted to unintentionally injuring Lux—saying he had meant to simply throw his drink over him and accidentally released the glass.   But the court decided he had intentionally caused the injury to Lux.

GBH (or the German equivalent) is a serious offence, and Sutil can consider himself lucky to have received a "celebrity sentence" of a massive fine rather than a spell behind bars.

The fine is a drop in the ocean for Sutil, who had offered a greater sum to settle the issue out of court.  The real damage is to his future in F1.

Leaving the court, Sutil's statement to reporters indicated he may believe his career is over.

Maybe I will take some time out now.  Maybe I will do something completely different, think about things in peace.  At least I shook Mr (Eric) Lux's hand.  That's a good thing.

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Whether or not the assault charge hanging over his head contributed to his failure to land the Williams seat alongside Pastor Maldonado in 2012 is open for debate.  It seems likely that it did.

But now the case has been decided against him, the shadow it cast has lengthened into 2013 and beyond.

He'll never be an all-time great, but few would doubt he possesses sufficient talent to deserve a drive.  In uncompetitive cars, numerous points finishes and skilled performances marked him out as a worthy competitor.

However, securing a seat in F1 isn't only a matter of talent.  With a conviction for a serious offence now hanging firmly around his neck, it's unlikely any of the image-conscious teams on the grid would touch Sutil.

He will also have lost his personal sponsors, without whom securing a drive would be even more difficult.

Though Sutil is no longer a young, up-and-coming driver, he is by no means an elder statesman. 

But his future looks bleak, and at the age of just 29, it's likely he has driven his final race in F1.

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