Adrian Sutil has confirmed that his criminal record will not stop him from returning to F1 in 2013 with Force India.
The German was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm at the end of January after an incident involving Renault's Eric Lux in a Shanghai night club in 2011 following the Chinese Grand Prix. He was handed an 18-month suspended sentence as a result and also fined 200,000 Euros. It had been thought this might prevent him travelling to certain countries - such as China and the USA, but he has now said that is not the case.
“We checked of course - me and my management - we checked all the countries and there is no problem for me to travel, so that is why I'm also here in Bangkok without any trouble. So all my problems I had last winter are solved,” Sutil told BBC Radio 5 live
reporter Jennie Gow at the Race of Champions event in Bangkok. “It is a new beginning.”
Sutil is one of a number of drivers rumoured to be in contention for a seat at Force India alongside Britain's Paul di Resta in 2013, with Kamui Kobayashi, Jaime Alguersuari, Bruno Senna, Heikki Kovalainen and Force India's test and reserve pilot, Jules Bianchi all thought to be possibilities.
So how confident is he – and when will he know he has got the drive?
“Once I've got the signature!” he joked. “The signature is what counts. They know who I am, they know how to work with me and we have got a lot of experience together. There is nothing too much to say, it's all up to Vijay [Mallya – Force India team owner and boss]; it is Vijay's decision and hopefully he will make the right one, so that I am in the car!
“It is hard, but what can I do? Five years I was in this team so they know how good I am, they know my qualities. I am not the one who has gone to this team and said: "Please, please give me the drive". I think they should also come to me and say: "Yes, we want you". That is a good base. I want to drive for this team but they should also want me as a driver, so that is why I am quite relaxed. I know how to handle this situation.
“I've done the maximum I could do at the moment and now it is all up to them to decide if I am in the seat or not.”