Formula One driver Adrian Sutil has called fellow racer Lewis Hamilton a “coward” and said he no longer regarded him as a friend for failing to appear as a witness in his trial on an assault charge.

Sutil was on Tuesday given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for three years by a court in Munich after being convicted of causing bodily harm in a nightclub dispute.

Sutil and Hamilton, who have been friends on the Formula One circuit for years, were together at the Shanghai club following the Chinese Grand Prix last April when a row broke out in which Eric Lux, co-owner of the former Renault-Lotus team, was injured.

But former world champion Hamilton did not give evidence in the trial on Monday and Tuesday. Instead, the Briton provided a written statement to say he did not see the incident.

“Lewis is a coward, I don’t want to be friends with someone like that,” Sutil was quoted as saying by Germany’s Bild daily.

The 29-year-old German said Hamilton was “not a man,” adding that “even his father sent me an SMS wishing me luck” for the court case but “from Lewis there was nothing.” Sutil was also fined 200,000 euros for the attack in which Lux suffered a gash to the neck, which needed stitches.

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