For a sport that is so obsessed with data, Formula 1 still has an amazing thirst for the 'wow' moments that no amount of crunching numbers into cells on a spreadsheet can do justice to.
It's not for scoring 18 wins and 16 poles in 169 starts that F1 fans the world over laud Kimi Raikkonen for being something very special.
No, it's for the way he swaggers around the paddock: the 'James Hunt' gorilla costume moments, that infamous 'YouTube' clip on the boat, the way he does his thing in the racing car - and the way all this together delivers the kinds of spectacular 'Ice Man' moments that we witnessed at Suzuka back in 2005.
It was hard not to be reminded of that very ability of drivers to produce something that stirs the emotions, rather that sends statisticians into orbit, in the minutes after the Japanese Grand Prix when Suzuka went 'Kamui' mad.
The chanting in the grandstands for their man to get out on the podium was thrilling to see, and a reminder that despite the money and politics that flood the sport, there is still some space for passion.
The crowd went Kamui mad on Sunday at Suzuka © LAT
Japan's F1 fans have always been tremendously loyal to grand prix racing, following the sport through the highs of lows of their local heroes - be it Aguri Suzuka, Takuma Sato, Honda or Toyota.
This year its focus was on Sauber #14, whose driver had come into the Suzuka weekend openly talking about a podium finish. Bold claims from a man who had just seen his team-mate grab the F1 spotlight and secure a place at McLaren in 2013.
Kobayashi was on spectacular form all weekend, on track brilliantly weaving his Sauber C31 on the finest 5.8 kilometres of asphalt that exist in the world while his Mexican team-mate had a bit of a scrappy time.
Off track he was in fine fettle too. On Saturday, having put his car on the second row, he was proudly showing off a pair of natty Union Jacks socks. "These are my McLaren socks....." he kept joking.
He drew short of answering questions about whether or not he believed the boys in Woking had taken the wrong man though.... but did they?
Coming in to the weekend, there would have been few who would have argued the McLaren choice. On paper, the statistics appeared to point to a no-brainer of a decision. Kobayashi had just 35 points to his name, while Perez had nearly double that amount with 66 to his name.
More than that, in the 'wow moment' stakes it was three-nil. It was Perez who had pushed Fernando Alonso all the way in Malaysia; it was Perez who had charged brilliantly through the field in Montreal, and it was Perez who left Lewis Hamilton sweating throughout the Italian Grand Prix.
Kobayashi's podium finish in Suzuka may have pulled back the points deficit and given the Japanese his first notch on the 'wow-o-meter', but more than that it has given us cause to scrape a little deeper when it comes to analysing how he and Perez have stacked up this year.
For, if you were to play devil's advocate in this situation, you could argue that Perez's success this year has been as much down to right place/right time as out-and-out ability. Just look at their qualifying record: a good indicator of overall speed. It's 9-6 in Kobayashi's favour.
Now let's look in a bit more detail about the story behind Perez's podiums...
Perez left Suzuka with nothing to show for © LAT
In Malaysia, the Sauber was pretty brutal on its tyres - which had caused it and Ferrari a troubled time in practice and qualifying trying to find a means of not overheating its rubber. Things did not look good.
But what had been a bummer in the dry proved a bonus in the wet, and a good strategy call and an ability to get instant heat into the intermediate tyres helped Alonso and Perez run away with it.
The foundations of Perez's other podiums have also come from a tyre advantage, and it's one he has been able to enjoy because he did not do as good a job as Kobayashi in qualifying.
In Canada and Monza, Perez was able to get himself on to the right tyre strategy because he had failed to qualify in front of his team-mate. That left him keener to try and do something different, and at Monza his team-mate had no option but to start on the option tyres because had qualified in the top 10.
Perez thus found himself in the Italian GP as the only man on the right tyre strategy on an afternoon when everyone else was on the wrong one...
As Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn suggested after Japan, there is a strong argument for suggesting that Kobayashi has been a victim of his own success at times thanks to F1's tyre rules.
"If you look at most of the podiums we had, he had the better qualifying," she said. "Through that, he has certain restraints on the tyres, on the strategy, and with the other car you can simply take a risk: and the risk worked out and paid off.
"So you have to be careful when you start comparing our drivers. I think he has been unlucky this year and it was about time he started being lucky."
Also don't forget that under whose grid slot in China was there a huge oil slick left in the build-up to the race? Yep, you've got it...
Kobayashi beat Button to the podium in Japan © LAT
The Suzuka weekend proved to be a different type of podium for Sauber though, because it came not through finding itself on the right tyre strategy or almost alone in the right tyre temperature window.This was a day when it was battling wheel-to-wheel with its rivals on a completely level playing field.
Kobayashi showed that when the chips are down and the pressure is on, he is a formidable driver. For Perez, it was a scrappy afternoon: an ace overtaking move on Lewis Hamilton being outweighed by finding himself being too overambitious in battling wheel-to-wheel with Raikkonen before his early exit after getting flustered behind Hamilton.
F1 is about doing things at the right moment though.
When the opportunities have been there this season, it is still Perez who has delivered more regularly and it is still Perez who has shown that he has huge future potential. And if you spoke to team insiders, they still reckon that if the Mexican had been running at the right pace in Japan he would have been their man on the podium.
It's on those very strong foundations - plus probably a bit of potential in tapping in to Telmex further down the road - that McLaren went down the route it did.
Kobayashi's podium may have come too late to serve as a message to the frontrunning teams that he can deliver like that week in, week out - but it would be a travesty if a drive like that - a drive earned the hard way amid intense late-race pressure from Jenson Button - did not get rewarded with a contract somewhere for the 2013 season.
Kobayashi's stats may show just one podium finish in 55 starts, but maybe his wow moments - like that gutsy battling with Jenson Button in Brazil/Abu Dhabi 2009, that famous afternoon in Suzuka in 2010 when he seemed the only man able to overtake, and his home podium finish - can still count for something.
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