Formula 1 News

Adrian Sutil apologizes at assault trial

The German driver had a violent incident last April at a Shanghai nightclub after the Chinese Grand Prix.
Monday, January 30, 2012

MUNICH, Germany, Jan 30, 2012 (AFP) - German Formula One driver Adrian Sutil apologized to a Luxembourg businessman at the start of his assault trial Monday for wounding him with a champagne glass but said he had not meant to hurt him.

"I am terribly sorry, I did not want that to happen," the 29-year-old Force India pilot told the district court in Munich, southern Germany, about the incident last April in a Shanghai nightclub after the Chinese Grand Prix.

Sutil is charged with grievous bodily harm for injuring Lotus Renault shareholder Eric Lux with the glass in a brawl that broke out during a celebration of his close friend Lewis Hamiltons win in the race.

The nine-centimetre-long (four-inch-long) cut on Lux's throat required stitches, according to prosecutors, who had offered a suspended sentence of one year in exchange for a guilty plea. Sutil refused.

The driver told the court that he had attempted on several occasions to contact Lux to apologise but that the executive had repeatedly rebuffed him and threatened him with lasting damage to his racing career.

Lux, who was not yet in the courtroom when Sutil testified as he is a co-plaintiff in the case, said later that he wanted the pilot to say he was sorry in person.

"I would have expected him to come to Luxembourg and apologise to me," he said. "A phone call is not enough."

Judge Christiane Thiemann read an email from Sutil, who appeared in court dressed in a dark suit, a crisp white shirt and a salmon-coloured tie, on May 15 in which he expressed his regrets and offered to donate money to a African charity Lux supports.

Sutil said Lux rejected his overtures but that they had discussed an out-of-court settlement in which the driver said Lux had made "strange offers" involving "a lot of money" and a hiatus from Formula One.

"He threatened me with 'destroying' me and ensuring that I go to prison for a long time," Sutil said. Lux denied seeking advantage for Renault from the incident. 

Hamilton is not due to testify as a witness. A verdict could come as early as Tuesday.

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