5 F1 Drivers who have been on the wrong side of the law

There have been quite a few former (and current) F1 drivers who have had run ins with the law, including Max Verstappen's father, Jos.

Former F1 drivers Jean Alesi and Jos Verstappen
What F1 drivers have been on the wrong side of the law?

Formula 1 places intense expectations upon the participants, as do all public life and sport. In such a case, breaking the law almost always ends in disaster. Often, even if there may be no conviction or arrest, it usually does result in a PR disaster. You are constantly under scrutiny, and you cannot afford to slip up or do something wrong in your life.

We found this out well after Nikita Mazepin’s video groping a woman. Even if he was not prosecuted for it, it permanently stained his name (probably rightfully so) and the fans never perceived him the same way. Of course, his behaviour on track and his lacklustre performances compared to teammate Mick Schumacher didn’t help people’s perception of him.

Even Lewis Hamilton has had a few run-ins with the law: For speeding. In 2007, Hamilton was caught speeding at 196 km/h in France, and as a result, he was banned from driving for one month. In 2010, he was charged and fined A$500 dollars for ‘deliberately losing traction’. But what he did is nothing compared to some other Formula 1 drivers.

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Jos Verstappen

Jos Verstappen
Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen

Max Verstappen’s father drove in Formula 1 for 9 seasons between 1994 and 2003 for teams such as Arrows and Benetton, but he achieved much notoriety outside the paddock. In 1998, he and his father Frans were found guilty of assaulting a man but given a five-year suspended prison sentence as they reached an out-of-court settlement with the victim.

In 2008, he was charged with assaulting his estranged (separated) wife, Sophie Kumpen, but not found guilty. But he was found guilty of violating a restraining order and of threatening her through text. In 2012, he was charged with attempted murder of his then-girlfriend, but this was later withdrawn.

Jean Alesi

Jean Alesi
Former F1 driver Jean Alesi

Jean Alesi was a very popular driver during the 1990s and drove for the titans: Ferrari. Recently, however, he was in the news for something different. Last year, the Frenchman was arrested for throwing a firecracker at his ‘brother-in-law’s’ office, who was in the process of separating with Alesi’s sister. But Alesi denied that it played any role in the ‘bad joke that went wrong’.

Alesi even had to spend 24 hours in prison, but he didn’t seem to regret it all that much, saying that he spent a ‘fantastic evening‘ at the police station.

Bertrand Gachot

Adrian Sutil
Adrian Sutil

Back in 1990, French driver, Bertrand Gachot was involved in a small accident with a taxi driver. Gachot alleged that the taxi driver provoked him, and he sprayed the latter with tear gas as ‘self-defence’. Tear Gas was illegal in Britain at the time. Then after he won the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans, he was sentenced to 18 months (released after two) in prison.

This incident is also notable, as, at the time of his sentence, Gachot had been contracted to Jordan. Of course, his prison sentence meant that was all over, and in his place, a young German by the name of Michael Schumacher got the chance to drive the car instead. The rest is, as they say, history.

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil
Adrian Sutil

German driver Adrian Sutil is most associated with the Sahara Force India team he drove 4 seasons for from 2008-2011, and one more in 2013. He was a good points scorer, and a solid driver, but he would lose valuable time in his Formula 1 career. In 2011, following the Chinese Grand Prix, Sutil assaulted Eric Lux, owner of the Lotus F1 team.

For this, he was handed a suspended 18-month prison sentence and a fine of €200,000. As a result, he lost his seat at Force India for 2012, which instead went to the team’s then reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg.

JJ Lehto

JJ Lehto
JJ Lehto

A two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and a protege of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg drove for teams such as Onyx (where he coincidentally replaced Bertrand Gachot), Scuderia Italia, Sauber and Benetton. In 2010, he was involved in a boating accident in a canal in Finland, in which his friend died.

It was alleged that Lehto was drunk and driving the boat, and while the Finn maintained his innocence, he was sentenced to 28 months in prison. He appealed this, but this was delayed as his attorney was arrested on money laundering charges. Later, he was cleared of all charges.

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