Sutil bats off Lux questions, 'concentrating on the racing'
20 May 2011
He might have – somewhat predictably – faced a barrage of questions from media about his nightclub incident with Eric Lux last month upon arriving in Barcelona for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, but despite the potential GBH charges hanging over his head, Adrian Sutil insists he is simply 'concentrating on the racing at the moment'.
Habitually one of the paddock's quieter and more anonymous residents, Sutil has been thrust into the limelight over the past few days after it emerged that he had been involved in an altercation with Genii Capital chief executive Eric Lux – the right-hand man to majority Lotus Renault GP owner Gérard Lopez – during a post-Chinese Grand Prix party in the M1NT nightclub in Shanghai that left the latter with a cut to his neck.
Lux has since confirmed his intention 'to file a criminal complaint against Mr. Adrian Sutil for physical assault and grievous bodily harm' after he was injured by a champagne flute allegedly thrown by the German following a row over the Lotus Renault GP investor's girlfriend in a VIP room – an incident that resulted in the need for 24 stitches and that, contend Lux's lawyers, 'could have killed him'.
Another report, in German publication Bild, claims that as the club became increasingly crowded, a drink was spilt over Sutil – and when Lux intervened, the newspaper states that the Force India F1 ace attempted to throw his own drink at the Swiss billionaire only for the glass to break, corroborating the 28-year-old's insistence in his public apology that the injury was caused 'accidentally'.
Whatever the truth of events that night in Shanghai, Sutil was palpably in no mood to discuss the matter at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.
“Of course it's a bit difficult at the moment,” he told reporters in Barcelona, according to SPEED.com, “but when I'm in the car, the world will be in order. I look forward to it. I want to concentrate on F1.”
“To be honest, it's one part of my life but I'm concentrating on the racing at the moment,” he added, quoted by Reuters. “I'm here in Barcelona and I want to focus on my race this weekend, and to focus on the next one in Monaco. That's all that counts, and that's all I can answer at the moment. There are always difficult situations, but I have to live with it. We are now here in Barcelona, so I expect you to ask about Barcelona – but if you want to have questions about Monaco, you can do it now or we can do it in Monaco.”
The mention of Monaco is an allusion to the muted and distinctly lukewarm support that Sutil has ostensibly received from his team over the matter, with Force India having confirmed his presence inside the cockpit of the #14 VJM04 only for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, with no mention of Monte Carlo just seven days later and test and reserve driver Nico Hülkenberg waiting in the wings. His manager is adamant that not too much should be read into the FIF1 statement.
“To-date, there has been no official indictment, only the press release about the intention [of Lux],” stressed Manfred Zimmermann. “The team has the right to monitor the situation – that is normal – but we believe that Adrian will also be in the cockpit for all the remaining races. Please, just let us talk about F1 and Barcelona and maybe if you are interested, Monaco, but no more questions regarding Shanghai and the incident. It makes no sense.”
Zimmermann acknowledged that his driver has appointed his own lawyers – with previous reports indicating that Sutil had made contact with Lorenz Erni, who two years ago famously defended filmmaker Roman Polanski over sexual assault charges.
It has also been revealed that McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton – who was similarly present in the nightclub as he celebrated his Chinese Grand Prix victory, his first of the F1 2011 campaign – could be summoned by the prosecution to give evidence in an eventual trial. The Briton would concede only that 'I've been advised not to say anything'.
The last serving F1 driver to run into trouble with the law was Bertrand Gachot, who was sent to jail for two months back in 1991 for having sprayed CS gas in the face of a London taxi driver – a moment of madness that to all intents and purposes ended the Belgian's top flight career...and helped to launch that of a certain Michael Schumacher.