Heavy rain over Suzuka cancelled Saturday qualifying which was moved to Sunday morning under the rules. Ironically, the last time this rule was invoked, was at Suzuka in 2004! I think it was more of a problem for the television broadcasters than for the teams and drivers.
Drivers love the Suzuka circuit. David Coulthard says it's an old school circuit designed in the 1960s. It's narrow, twisty, and very technical. Suzuka is a true driver's challenge but it's simply not possible for the driver to carry a crappy car around the circuit. Martin Brundle says it separates the men from the boys and that Suzuka terrified him when he drove it in the turbo era cars. It's impressive when driver's describe a track like that.
As expected, Redbull dominated the weekend again locking out the front row of the grid with Vettel on pole. Hamilton impressively qualified in third but had to take a five place penalty for changing a gearbox. This moved Kubica into third on the grid which was a great surprise.
Kubica's position made hime a potential wild card in the race and he demonstrated it by getting a better start to grab second from Webber. The start was a mess with two massive collisions before the first corner. While behind the safety car, a wheel separated from Kubica's car which deprived us of some excitement from the leaders of the race. It was a disaster for Renault as Petrov was one of those involved in the dust up at the start.
The race was exciting but none of it came from the race leaders, Vettel, Webber, and Alonso. The best racing came from Kobayashi who made more passes than any one else. He owned the turn 11 hair pin where he made every pass. Except for the first pass, which was basically out of control, the others were aggressive but very fair. I'm almost sure he passed some drivers twice because he drop back so far after his pit stop.
Schumacher and Rosberg had a nice little fight which demonstrated two points. First, Schumacher is still a capable driver even if we haven't seen much of it this season. Second, Rosberg is more than capable of racing against Schumacher off in a fair fight.
Hamilton has a terrible weekend. He lost third gear and limped to the finish using only fourth through seventh gears to avoid further damage. Somehow he still managed to finish in fifth place which was quite a feat under the conditions. And remember, that was a new gearbox. Some questions are going to be asked.
Webber is still in the lead of the drivers' championship but finishing second or lower is simply not going to win him the drivers' title. His points lead is not enough, so he needs to win one more race or his rivals will a DNF. While the former isn't going to be easy, the latter is just gambling on others having failures in my opinion. Webber's going to have to earn the title and that's the way it should be.