Rain raises qualifying system questions

When the new qualifying procedure was announced at the start of the year, Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug suggested that it would be wholly unacceptable if something like fickle weather ended in qualifying decided a world championship

Rain raises qualifying system questions

Haug's vision could have come true at Suzuka, as rain midway through final qualifying badly affected the front-runners. Michael and Ralf Schumacher were the worst hit, qualifying 14th and 19th respectively, while Kimi Raikkonen could only manage eighth.

Following the session Haug said: "My view is that Kimi is not that much better off than Michael. You can just as easily be involved in someone else's accident from 8th on the grid as 14th. If you did the best job yesterday only to be rewarded with the worst conditions today, then that doesn't fit. I think it needs to be considered in the future."

Schumacher Jr and Jarno Trulli, by dint of being quickest on Friday, ran last on Saturday and suffered the worst of the rain. Ralf spun and Jarno aborted his lap due to the conditions.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis, however, refused to be too downbeat. "The mixed grid makes for an interesting race," he said. "Michael still has work to do to finish in the top eight and he's not starting from the best position if there is a first lap incident. Thirty-seven races without a stop, 14th on the grid, who knows? But I don't wish ill on him. Well, not much, anyway...

"Our challenge is to win and I'm pretty sure that all the cars in front of us are pretty light (on fuel) and we certainly won't be giving up. The weather cost us a race win at Indy but as I've always said, you win or lose a championship over 16 races, not one or two. I have reservations because it is not 'pure' but we have to remember that we are a spectator sport and it could certainly improve the spectacle."

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