The assault charge had nothing to do with Adrian Sutil losing his race seat, Force India has insisted.
Prior to the German being convicted of grievous bodily harm by the Munich courts, his Silverstone based employer decided to replace him for 2012 with Nico Hulkenberg. But Sutil’s pending hearing “never even came into our thinking” when the decision was taken, Force India’s deputy boss Bob Fernley is quoted by the BBC.
Rather, Fernley said the team “had to look at where we felt our long-term strengths lay”.
“Adrian had been with us for a number of years, and we genuinely believed the future with us was with Paul (di Resta) and Nico,” he added.
Fernley conceded, however, that 29-year-old Sutil’s charge – following an altercation with Lotus team executive Eric Lux last April – put “enormous pressure” on Force India.
And he admitted that the same pressure might be felt by the German’s next employer.
“What I am not sure of, and we’ve not been able to take it in yet, is what the impact will be on his racing career,” said Fernley. “I don’t think it will affect him totally, but sponsors and everybody else might have some different views.”