There has been a subtle migration of F1 drivers to NASCAR in recent years. Juan Pablo Montoya notably fled the clutches of McLaren honcho Ron Dennis (known by his friends as the Prince of Darkness) to seek a warmer, cozier home in Chip Gnassi’s base camp. Another would-be defector (but for the fact that he can’t seem to score a steady ride) is former world champ Jacques Villeneuve.
Then, of course, there’s Nelson Piquet, Jr., who, after being disgraced in the Crashgate scandal, has had difficulty getting so much as a job driving taxi in Bangkok (but the NASCAR truck series was willing to take him on board). And we recently learned that the laconic Finn himself, the Kimster (a.k.a Kimi Raikkonen), will be giving the Finnish version of a Rebel yell on the chitlin circuit this summer, although what the good ol’ boy crowd will make of him is anyone’s guess.
And what do these refugees from Formula 1 all have in common? One shouldn’t make generalizations, but (with the possible exception of Piquet, who would clearly rather be racing open-wheelers) most of these drivers seem to possess a certain rowdy and renegade spirit. Montoya has a well documented hair trigger temper (he’s attacked photo journalists, and loves to play bumper car in anger on the super speedways).
And the Kimster, while he isn’t as publicly prone to dust-ups and punch-outs, clearly sees himself as someone who goes against the grain. Witness his idea of summer leisure time, which involves dressing up in a gorilla suit and racing speedboats under the alias James Hunt (a nod to another hell raiser of a bygone era).
And now comes the latest candidate for good ol’ boyism, Force India driver Adrian Sutil (or should we call him Adrian-Bob?). Mind you, there have been no rumors to the effect, official or otherwise, that Sutil is about to abandon Monte Carlo for Miami, but it was reported last week that Sutil got into a brawl in a Shanghai nightclub, in the process injuring Eric Lux, the CEO of Genii Capital, which owns the Renault F1 team.
On the night of the incident, Sutil was partying with his chum Lewis Hamilton (they were celebrating Hammy’s victory that weekend). Just what led to the fight, and who was the instigator, remains unclear. What is clear, is that Eric Lux has decided to file criminal charges against the German driver.
A statement from Lux’s lawyers said, “In the view of the recent events which occurred in Shanghai on 17 April, Mr Eric Lux has decided to file a criminal complaint against Mister Adrian Sutil for physical assault and grievous bodily harm.”
For his part, Adrian-Bob maintains the whole thing was an unfortunate accident. In a statement to the German press, he said, “During a private event, there was a very unfortunate action by me in which I hurt another person completely unintentionally. I regret the incident and have apologized accordingly. Since this was a private event and not directly related to Formula 1 or my job as a Formula 1 driver, I ask for understanding that I will say no more on this incident.”
According to some reports, Mr. Lux sustained an injury to the throat. I’m not sure how you accidentally hurt someone in the throat (“Pardon me, I didn’t mean to strangle you, I was only reaching for the salt”), but Adrian-Bob managed to do so, and now, while not exactly expressing remorse, he has at least allowed that he wishes everyone would stop talking about it.
Fair enough. The question now remains, not who did what to whom, and when, but rather, is Adrian-Bob ready for the brawler’s big time? You know what I’m talking about. Move over Juan Pablo and Kimi. There’s a new sheriff in town. And when he loads up the summer cooler, it will more likely be with Beck’s than Bud.