Suspended jail sentence for Sutil

2012 F1 season

Adrian Sutil, Force India, Interlagos, 2011

Sutil was found guilty of grievous bodily harm

Adrian Sutil has been handed an 18-month suspended jail sentence by a court in Germany.

Sutil received the sentence along with a ??200,000 fine after being found guilty of inflicting bodily harm on Eric Lux in a nightclub in Shanghai last year.

The former Force India driver told the court he had apologised and claimed he had only meant to spill his drink on Lux when he wounded him with a champagne glass during the fracas. Lux is the CEO of Lotus owners Genii Capital.

Sutil is without a drive for 2012 having lost his seat at Force India to Nico Hulkenberg last year.

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140 comments on Suspended jail sentence for Sutil

  1. Franton said on 31st January 2012, 11:22

    Call me cynical, but I guess he’s done a Gachot then.

  2. tonyyeb (@tonyyeb) said on 31st January 2012, 11:23

    Does this mean having a conviction against him, it will make getting into the US (and others) difficult? Less chance of getting a drive in the future?

  3. James (@jamesf1) said on 31st January 2012, 11:26

    Anyone find that fine a little excessive? Some people get fined a two digit some for an assault and a far smaller sentence than that.

    I guess it’s relative to his earnings, but for an assault (a seemingly provoked one at that) doesnt warrant a fine that big in my opinion. People have done far worse and recieved far less punishment.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 31st January 2012, 11:32

      It’s a suspended sentence. That’s never excessive.
      People can usually expect to get actual jail time for a serious assault like this.

      • James (@jamesf1) said on 31st January 2012, 11:39

        I wasnt contesting the suspended sentence, just the fine. If people get fined 6 figures sums for assault in Europe is it any wonder the economy is in such a state!

        • Nick.UK (@) said on 31st January 2012, 12:05

          Lol, well fines issued as a result of crime has nothing to do with the economy for one. Second, as you say, it will be a means tested fine. Here in the UK fines are issued based on the ability of the defendant to pay. The aim is to ensure a fine does the same ‘damge’ to the offender equally across the board of people with differing incomes.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st January 2012, 11:32

      @jamesf1 Well they’re in a far better position than we are to judge to what degree it was provoked, whether it was intentional and what the extent of Lux’s injuries were.

      But clearly if you hit someone in the neck with a glass you’re on very risky ground. He could quite easily have ended up on trial for something far more serious than GBH.

      So I don’t think an 18-month suspended sentence is necessarily excessive, based on what little we know.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 31st January 2012, 11:34

      People have done far worse and recieved far less punishment.

      Sutil nearly killed him. He hit Lux just a few millimetres away from his carotid artery. If he had nicked it, Lux could have died before an ambulance arrived. Sutil essentailly committed assault with a deadly weapon.

      You also need to bear in mind that Sutil was prosecuted under German law, not British or American. If Sutil was found guilty of criminal intent – ie that the attack was pre-meditated – then he was lucky to get away with the sentence that was given. It could have been much worse.

      • Nick.UK (@) said on 31st January 2012, 12:23

        Criminal intent is not something you can be found guilty of.

        Every offence has a mental element that needs to be established in order to prove quilt (along with showing the defendant did the act of the offence itself) but that is merely part of the required ‘building blocks’ of establishing guilt. The mental element for an offence like this can be established using a recklessness test. This is a lower degree of intent than pre-meditation for which the latter is far more sersious. Basically with recklessness the defendant is acting without giving thought to the possible consequences of his actions but is still culpable unless other special circumstances exist, such as being below age of criminal culpability for example, or any other available defence.

        I don’t mean this to sound patronising by the way @Prisoner Monkeys, it’s just a pet hate of mine when the law is missquoted on the internet lol.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 11:37

      Hard to tell really, without knowing what happened in detail. I would expect that the judge is the one to decide on it. She, as well as prosecution, Lux and Sutil are the ones with the fullest knowledge of it.

      But the fact its a suspended sentence, softens down the sentence by quite a bit. And if Sutil / his lawyers feel its excessive, they will probalby look at overturning it.

    • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 31st January 2012, 12:07

      Sutil got a hefty fine and suspended sentence.

      To me it looks like the deal was struck between both parties.

  4. JPedroCQF1 (@joao-pedro-cq) said on 31st January 2012, 11:28

    To be honest, I expected something much worse for him.

    But I still can’t figure out how it passed from spill his drink on Lux to make a cut on his neck.

  5. magon4 (@magon4) said on 31st January 2012, 11:32

    It seems all along that Lux was really mad and took it deeply personally, he seems to be somewhat of an arrogant person (“How could you do this to me?”). He wanted Sutil to visit him in Luxemburg in order to apologize, but he seemingly fled from him until the Brazilian GP. And he wanted to come to an agreement out of court, but for a double digit million figure, which is absurd.
    Sutil really shouldn’t have done what he did, since it might have somehow cost him his career. This mighty men with the money know how to get you, and I think partly that’s what this was all about.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st January 2012, 11:33


      It seems all along that Lux was really mad and took it deeply personally, he seems to be somewhat of an arrogant person

      Based on what?

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 31st January 2012, 11:37

        Based on what?

        Well, there was this report which states that Lux wanted Sutil to voluntarily leave the sport, and that he repeatedly threatened to destroy Sutil’s career if he did not apologise. Of course, we only have Sutil’s word on that, but if it’s true, I’d say that’s pretty arrogant of Lux to demand that Sutil leave Formula 1.

      • magon4 (@magon4) said on 31st January 2012, 11:39

        I am basing myself on Sutil’s explanations at court, which is a shaky thing to do; but from the many interviews and profiles I’ve seen about Sutil here in Germany, it doesn’t seem to me that he wouldn’t be willing to try to make things right.
        The 10 million + demand from Lux and the fact that he seemingly avoided Sutil for the better part of the season to then expect him to go to Luxemburg at least paints him as someone who wasn’t really willing to “solve this between men”.
        Maybe Sutil should’ve just gone to Luxemburg, but then what? Of course, Keith, this is speculation; but it also at least seems somewhat typical behavior of a top manager.
        Having said that, the injuries where dangerous, for sure, and Sutil doesn’t seem to really to admit to any intended assault (he says it was an accident, and the court didn’t buy it).

  6. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 31st January 2012, 11:37

    An unfortunate situation, which should really act as a lesson to us all.

  7. Mahir C said on 31st January 2012, 11:38

    I didnt understand the sentence. Is the jail time suspended for 18 months or the sentence is 18 months in jail that is suspended for some time?

  8. Girts (@girts) said on 31st January 2012, 11:43

    We don’t know the exact circumstances so we can only speculate whether the sentence is fair or not. I just hope this won’t destroy Adrian’s future as a racing driver. No matter what he did to Eric Lux, he is still one hell of an F1 driver and I also still believe he is not a bad person. Here’s to Adrian’s return to F1 in 2013.

    • rpiian (@rpiian) said on 31st January 2012, 12:04

      Well said. I think he’s a decent driver and I hope he can get back in the game.

    • Girts, that’s not how a justice system works. If you’re convicted, that means there is enough evidence to prove the facts, regardless of what else we know or don’t know or who was there or not there. Otherwise there would rarely be convictions or a stable society. If the defendant contests the way the facts have been established, then he needs to appeal.

      • Nick.UK (@) said on 31st January 2012, 12:42

        Criminal cases only need to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ to a jury. If you have an incredible advocate for the prosecution and an inexperienced defence advocate, the jury can be made to believe anything regardless of the evidence right before them. I’ve been to many court cases, including murder trials (don’t worry I wasn’t the defendant lol) and the way you phrase your questions and present your case is everything. All you have to do is plant a seed of doubt in a jury members mind that there is another plausable scenario as to what happend, and they will argue over it for hours sometimes while deliberating.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 12:58

          Criminal cases only need to be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ to a jury

          that is, if there actually is a jury involved (as is the case in the USA, the UK and other countries, but not in Germany!)

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 31st January 2012, 13:12

            Ah ok. I was just speaking generally. I was not aware Germany did not use a jury system however.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 13:31

            No problem, the things you can find out on a F1 blog, eh @nick-uk! :-)

            It tends to be a bit more fact finding based without the Jury, with Judges being professionals with a thorough judical backgroung, but in the end its still people having to decide on the merits of evidence presented to them in each case.

        • Girts (@girts) said on 31st January 2012, 13:02

          A good point but I think Sutil was able to afford a strong advocate.

      • Girts (@girts) said on 31st January 2012, 12:54

        I basically trust German courts and I think the court has acted in good faith. If they have found Sutil guilty, they obviously believe to have seen enough evidence. Adrian most probably broke the law but it doesn’t necessarily mean he was morally wrong. We don’t know how the incident developed. I don’t think Adrian just had had a bad day and decided to attack Lux without any reason. Maybe Lux provoked him, laughed at him or whatever. And even if Adrian acted the way he shouldn’t have, I still don’t want to see him leave F1 because of that.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 13:00

          Fully agree on that @Girts, Yes, he his reaction to whatever Lux said to him was crossing a line, but it’s a shame if his driving career is finished by it.

        • “Adrian most probably broke the law but it doesn’t necessarily mean he was morally wrong.”

          LOL. Are you serious ? By definition, if you brake the law, you’re morally wrong.

  9. maxthecat said on 31st January 2012, 11:50

    How about some information about what actually happened? Did he stab at Lux? Where they arguing and if so about what? Report the news for us Keith instead of just a verdict.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st January 2012, 11:58

      The verdict is the news, the event happened months ago. There’s a recap in the third paragraph.

      • GQsm (@gqsm) said on 31st January 2012, 13:33

        If I remember correctly, what was reported at the time was hear say as no one would go into any detail of what fully happened. The hearing will have been based on evidence. We’ve not heard the ofifical line have we on how everything unfolded.
        Adam Cooper tweeted he had seen CCTV footage and that Sutil was pushing the approaching aggressor away from him. If that’s the case then in no way is this sentence justified.

        • JeffS86 said on 31st January 2012, 18:59

          There’s an article on under the formula 1 section where Adam Cooper talks about what he had seen on the CCTV footage.

          According to Cooper, Lux was standing over a seated Sutil and they were apparently having a discussion. At some point Lux attempted to grab Sutil by the left arm and pull him out of his seat. At this point Sutil attempted to push Lux away with his right hand (the hand the glass was in) and this is when the injury occurred.

  10. fishfingers (@fishfingers) said on 31st January 2012, 11:58

    I don’t understand this story at all. Sutil committed the act in China, so how can a court in Germany issue a fine and suspended sentence?

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 31st January 2012, 12:05

      Whilst abroad, I think you’re also bound to behave by the laws of your home country as well as those in which you are/have visiting/visted.

      • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 31st January 2012, 12:21

        This can’t be right. German courts can’t prosecute you if you go to Amsterdam to smoke some pot.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 12:31

          The difference being, that assaulting someone is very much a criminal offence in China as well as in Germany, while the smoking of pot is not a criminal act in Amsterdam, NL.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 31st January 2012, 12:09

      There is probably a clause in the German penal code stating that if a German national commits a crime, then he or she can be prosecuted for it in a German court, regardless of where the actual crime was committed. Furthermore, the Chinese authorities may have co-operated with the German prosecutors to overcome the issues of jurisdiction.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 13:13

      Do you think Sutil would protest a German court deciding over it instead of a Chinese one then? I for certain would rather be on the stand in Germany, especially if it would be my home country.

  11. Glorst said on 31st January 2012, 12:06

    Booohoo, now the last thing for sutil to do is play the piano!

  12. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 31st January 2012, 12:07

    May be this a rationale justice, but all I can make out of some of the statement floating around like Lux expecting Sutil to come to Luxemburg for apology and asking more than 10 million for settlement, put Lux in my hate list. I mean, imagine Sutil went to Luxemburg and would have paid 11 million, would that sufficed Lux for what he did to him.
    All Sutil did was absolutely wrong and he is paying price for that (for not having a seat in-spite of stellar 2011 and this sentence ) but this arrogance and don’t-even-stare-at-me attitude of such corporate individuals id definitely loathsome.
    Sorry Kimi, this team is now officially my most un-favorite team on the grid.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 31st January 2012, 15:12

      The problem is we don’t know what happened, @vickyy .
      Although I would love to be really forgiving, I still have feelings of revenge towards the ### who stalked my girlfriend. I won’t act on it, because he’s a lunatic. But the feelings are there, even after 5 years.
      So if Lux thinks Sutil acted intentionally and the only thing Adrian does is saying that it was an accident, while Lux could’ve been dead… I can understand him, although there could be more mature/gentlemanlike ways to react.

  13. Dafffid (@dafffid) said on 31st January 2012, 12:08

    Keith (or anyone) – did Hamilton testify in the end or not? Just curious

  14. TheJudge (@thejudge) said on 31st January 2012, 12:31

    18 months in the cage is a very ,very long time for a driver. But by the time,he comes out,he might be out of shape and the market without free seats.
    He’s a great driver and he has developed in these last 3 years like no one else,and I hope he can get back to F1.
    Hang in there adrian!

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 31st January 2012, 12:37

      18 months in the cage is a very ,very long time for a driver.

      But he’s not in prison. That’s what a suspended sentence is – he’s convicted of a crime, but he is free to go. He will only do jail time if he commits another offence before he probationary period is up.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 31st January 2012, 13:27

      A bit like the Renault suspended sentence after crashgate. It basically means nothing unless you are stupid enough to break the law again within the time frame.

      I have no comment on the sentence. Obviously people in court have seen things we can only speculate on but I would say that I think it’s a great shame that this all probably prevented Sutil getting a drive in 2012.

      When you see some of the drivers next year its sad that he won’t be on the grid because he’s quite an exciting driver.

    • “But by the time,he comes out,he might be out of shape ”

      Or he can be in a great shape if he uses his time properly by working out and if you ignore a certain part of his anatomy that might be subject to some intense and repeated deformation. Poetry in motion.

  15. rapidroller (@rdave0803) said on 31st January 2012, 12:55

    Considering the seriousness of this incident, an 18 month suspended sentence seems fair. However, if things like Lux threatening to destroy Sutil’s career or asking for a hiatus from F1 are true, then I wonder why did the Judge not consider these facts if they are true. I mean, Lux did not agree to an out of court settlement and on the contrary came up with unreasonable demands. That is a very wrong thing to do.
    The bigger question is how will the F1 teams react to this and most importantly, what will the FIA do. If this ends Sutil’s career then it is a very sad and sorry end.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 13:14

      Seems some journalists are baffled by the sentence as well – @adamcooper on Twitter:

      Still gobsmacked by the Sutil decision given that CCTV showed the other guy attacked first and Adrian just tried to push him away

      • That is pretty interesting. I would assume that the court would have had that piece of evidence but it seems like they did not. If Lux assaulting Sutil first is true then that is really disappointing considering Sutil’s punishment.

        • rapidroller (@rdave0803) said on 31st January 2012, 14:20

          @BasCB, if Lux attacking Sutil first is true, then it seems to be a very poor judgement by the court. It is Lux who should be punished since he provoked the incident. What Sutil did can be seen as an act of self defence and a person can do any reasonable act to save his life in the face of eminent danger.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 14:24

            I guess the trick is in the “if” there @rave0803 Obviously the judge did not see it that way.

            I guess Sutil will appeal if he feels its not a balanced centence.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st January 2012, 14:25

            sorry, @rdave0803, looks funny without the d in there!

          • I wonder if the sentence would be any different if Hamilton had actually been there as a witness. I’m a little puzzled by his absence especially being a good friend and a witness. Unless Hamilton knows Sutil is guilty or seems to take the term friend lightly.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 31st January 2012, 13:29

      I actually believe it should be none of FIA’s business. It’s as if Boy George wasn’t allowed to sing or release albums anymore because he has spent some months in prison.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 31st January 2012, 17:34

        He shouldn’t be banned, but surely it falls into the ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ section. And I believe Hamilton’s hooning led to the the FIA introducing punishment for traffic offences. If a traffic offence results in punishment, an assault worthy of a suspended jail term certainly should.

  16. I’ve seen Lux get a lot of stick on the net but I can’t for the life of me understand why. On the most basic level he was the victim of an assault and any assumption more than that is based on gossip and speculation which isn’t exactly concrete and is why I haven’t really wanted to comment much on this whole thing.

    I can’t really comment on the sentence because like I’ve just said I’ve no clue as to what went on but I think of the face of it Sutil got off lightly avoiding any real jail time.

    On a very different note I’ll be interested to see what happens with his career now as he’s been stagnant for years and now without a drive.

  17. goofy (@goofy) said on 31st January 2012, 13:27

    Well guys you got some fundamental things wrong about this case and german law:
    It wasn’t Lux who went in court it was Sutil! Lux reported the incindent to a federal prosecutor who found Sutil guilty and Sutil received a 12month jail sentence which was suspended to 12 month. (german: Strafbefehl / penal order?)
    Sutil found this unfair and appealed the Strafbefehl which automaticaly leads into a court case. The judge sentenced an even higher punishment to Sutil than the procecussion demanded (3years suspended to 18month). This is very unusual

    • magon4 (@magon4) said on 31st January 2012, 13:32

      Correcting you there, the procecussion asked for a longer sentence (21 months) and a higher fee (300,000), so that last bit of info is not quite accurate. He got 3 months less and 100,000 less.

  18. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 31st January 2012, 13:48

    Seems like a fair sentence to me.

    Can’t say I’ll miss him an awful lot.

  19. The Limit said on 31st January 2012, 14:08

    I don’t think Eric Lux is arrogant. If anything, the man weilding a champagne glass at Lux’s neck is the arrogant one. There is a big difference between a bunch of fives and being glassed, Adrian Sutil picked up the closest thing to hand and attacked Lux with it. A good job, atleast for Eric Lux, that it was a glass and not a knife.
    You can rest assured, that if you or I had done that, we would be behind bars and rightly so. Adrian Sutil is a lucky man, lucky to have his freedom, and lucky that he didn’t kill Eric Lux! If in attacking this man, is in some way aided the demise of his F1 career, in that he has only himself to blame.
    No wonder Lewis Hamilton wanted nothing to do with this trial, I would turn the other way too!

  20. amadeus said on 31st January 2012, 14:11

    This is ******* ridiculous. Absolutely. If Sutil’s fellony was so bad why they did’n judged them earlier ? This looks like revenge from a very very frustrated person. All the cameras (according to Zimmermann) showed that Sutil’s “hit” was unintentional. It’s a shame that such a talented pilot at the height of his career could be dragged in mud just to justify some interests. Shame, shame, shame !

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