As Formula One Hibernates, Some Puzzlers to Ponder

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Fernando Alonso, left, and Felipa Massa last February showing off the Ferrari racing car that would almost win the title in 2012. Credit Ercole Colombo/Ferrari News Service, via Associated Press

PARIS— It’s the winter season, when nothing happens in Formula One. The last race of 2012 was on Nov. 25, in Brazil, and the first race of the 2013 season will take place on March 17, in Australia. But the presentation of the new cars starts later this month. Winter testing starts on Feb. 5 in Spain. And actually, a lot has been happening, some of it puzzling, or open to interpretation. I’d like to take a break from the break and make short list of the principal such head-scratchers, and ask readers what they make of it all. In most cases, I am not quite sure what I make of it, but have some ideas, too.

Here’s the list:

1. Romain Grosjean was confirmed as a driver at Lotus again. Grosjean, readers may remember, had raced at Renault in 2009 for part of the season without impressing much. He then went off and impressed by winning the GP2 series title and returned to Formula One for the full 2012 season at Lotus. There, he more or less raced an impressive race followed by a disastrous race.

This meant scoring several podium finishes, but amassing many more penalties or accidents for rambunctious driving that included so many early-race errors that Mark Webber — one of his victims — called him a “first-lap nutcase.”

Grosjean knocked three drivers out of the Belgian Grand Prix at the first corner at the start, including the world champions and title contenders, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. For that he received a penalty of €50,000 and a one-race ban. When we consider that Alonso lost the title by three points, that accident may also have cost the Spaniard at Ferrari the drivers’ title.

But Grosjean — who continued his on-again-off-again style by winning the non-F1 Race of Champions event in December — has been rehired.

I…

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