Adrian Sutil is back in Formula 1, after Force India confirmed that the German will be racing alongside Paul di Resta in 2013. Sutil did a very decent job for the team in the course of 2011, finishing ninth in the World Championship. This followed four years of rather inconsistent racing with the team from 2007 onwards, during which he finished 19th, 20th, 17th and 11th. His progress, to a large extent, reflected the development of the car, but there is no question that in the final season he showed more maturity, at least on the race track. Off the track it was rather different. Early in the year in China he was involved in an unseemly incident in a nightclub in Shanghai, which resulted in Lux being stabbed in the neck with a champagne glass by Sutil. Lux later took legal action and early last year Sutil was found guilty in a German court of causing bodily harm to Lux. The judges in Munich viewed video of the incident and concluded that it had not been an accident and Sutil was given an 18-month suspended sentence and was fined $260,000. The prosecution has asked for a more severe penalty, arguing that a professional sportsman is a role model and should not act in the way in which Sutil acted.
It looked as though the incident might finish his F1 career, which would not have been a surprise, but Sutil appears to have found some more money and team owners Vijay Mallya and Roy Sahara have not encumbered themselves with any moral issues raised by the case.
Sutil says that he has no problems with visiting any of the countries where F1 holds races. One has to believe that he and his management have had words with the necessary governments to make sure that all is well. Some of the immigration laws are quite harsh and one can only hope that all the groundwork has been done and dispensations have been agreed. Trying to get into countries without having done this would not be very smart and one presumes that the team will have wanted documentary evidence that there will not be any problems.
It looks unlikely that Jules Bianchi will be staying with the team as its reserve driver. In the statement, Mallya said that he is “hopeful” that the team can continue working with the Frenchman, but if that was going to be the case, one would have expected the deal to have been announced at the same time. Bianchi will likely go elsewhere, where there is need of a reserve driver, or perhaps he might even find his way into a race car with Marussia.