- Vettel penalty like 'death for chicken stealing'
- FIA closes Red Bull 'engine maps' loophole
- World champions admire 2012 favourite Alonso
- Grosjean hopes to keep Lotus seat in 2013
- German spectators losing interest in F1
Vettel penalty like 'death for chicken stealing'
Red Bull has stepped up its attack on the FIA after Sunday's German grand prix.
After stewards demoted Sebastian Vettel from second to fifth place for his late-race pass on Jenson Button, Dr Helmut Marko admitted it had left an "aftertaste".
On Monday, he suggested the governing body often applies a "double standard", punishing some for identical infractions and not unnamed others.
Speaking on Red Bull-owned Austrian television Servus TV, the energy drink company's motor racing chief said the Vettel penalty was like "the death penalty for stealing chickens".
Jean-Eric Vergne, a rookie selected by Marko for Red Bull's secondary team Toro Rosso, agreed that Vettel only left the circuit because he was forced wide by Button.
"In Sebastian's place I would have done exactly the same," the Frenchman said.
Marko also suggested the FIA 'forgot' to warn Red Bull that simply letting Button re-pass could have saved Vettel the much harsher post-race time penalty.
"That warning did not come," he revealed.
Some F1 insiders suspect there could be more to the recent 'FIA versus Red Bull' wrangling.
Germany's Bild newspaper commented that "in formula one, it is no secret that Bernie Ecclestone is on Red Bull's side".
And the F1 chief executive is "the archenemy of FIA boss Jean Todt".
At present, the sport's most powerful pair are arguing about the vital and lucrative Concorde Agreement.
Writing in Der Spiegel newspaper, journalist Ralf Bach also referred to the behind-the-scenes "power struggle", and the fact that Ecclestone runs Red Bull by "remote control".
Vettel has vowed to do his best to give stewards no possible reason to punish him this weekend in Hungary.
"I will be careful to do nothing that could jeopardise the result," said the German.
FIA closes Red Bull 'engine maps' loophole
As expected, the FIA on Wednesday issued a rule clarification in the wake of the Red Bull 'engine maps' controversy at Hockenheim.
The governing body's technical boss Jo Bauer shocked the paddock last Sunday morning by asking the stewards to look into what Red Bull is doing, amid suggestions the team had gone too far with a complex form of legal traction control and engine exhaust blowing.
"None of us really know what it is that antagonised the FIA so much to provoke Jo Bauer to send the note that he did on Sunday morning," McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale told reporters on Wednesday.
"It was a quite unusual step," he said during the regular Vodafone teleconference.
"I hope we don't get involved in rewriting regulations in the mid-season ... (because) in terms of the sport consistency in regulations is good."
The stewards, however, had essentially admitted at Hockenheim that the current wording of the regulations prevented them from enforcing the so-called spirit or intention of the rules.
Technical directors met in London on Monday and the feeling afterwards was that the FIA would move to close the Red Bull loophole.
The clarification was issued on Wednesday, and the crux is that the engine torque controlled by the 'maps' will now be limited to plus or minus about two percent.
Mark Hughes, Sky Sport's technical boss, insists Red Bull was not caught cheating, but had simply "thought of a way around a regulation" - yet again.
"In the last few seasons it (Red Bull) has more often figured out a way past the intent of the wording than others. Red Bull has been surrounded in technical controversy more often because it has had more ideas," he explained.
World champions admire 2012 favourite Alonso
A swathe of world champions have backed Fernando Alonso to collect his third drivers' title in 2012.
Writing in Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, veteran correspondent Pino Allievi referred to the Spaniard, runaway championship leader and Hockenheim winner as "a perfect driver".
He said the Ferrari driver has also "sparked the imagination" of his fellow champions, including legends Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.
"He reminds me of myself, and a little bit of Prost," Austrian Lauda is quoted as saying.
"We were analytical, and Fernando too has a vision of the race that no one else can match."
Another triple world champion, Stewart, agrees.
"I am amused with all the polls about who is the best now in formula one, and I am amazed when I see there is doubt.
"I do not: Alonso is number one, (he's) in another dimension to the others," he said.
Quadruple title winner Prost said: "Fernando does things calmly, and knows how to get out the most even without the best equipment."
1997 champion Villeneuve shared the Renault garage with Alonso for a time, noting that the almost 31-year-old is "the only one who makes no mistakes".
"Yes, obviously he is the big favourite for the title," the French Canadian added.
1996 winner Hill added: "I admire the work done by Ferrari, but that the team is now so competitive is also to his (Alonso's) credit."
Grosjean hopes to keep Lotus seat in 2013
Romain Grosjean has admitted he hopes to keep his Lotus seat in 2013.
Despite a few too many incidents, the Swiss-born rookie Frenchman has been a revelation of this season, especially in light of his mediocre and abortive 2009 debut.
Lotus boss Eric Boullier and owner Gerard Lopez have indicated they are happy with both Grosjean, 26, and the team's other new driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Still, Grosjean is hoping he definitely stays in 2013.
"Hopefully, if all goes well, I will be with the team next season," he is quoted as saying by the French language website f1i.com.
"This will allow me to build up this year and compete in 2013 on a better footing," added Grosjean, who has been on the podium twice this year but failed to finish five of the 10 races so far.
He said: "We already know what has worked and what has not, so this will give us more time to do things perfectly.
"I hope I will be retained. If I continue in this way, I think I have a good chance."
The website said Grosjean sponsor Total's contract with the Enstone based team expires at the end of the season.
German spectators losing interest in F1
German journalist Michael Schmidt has expressed concern about the half-empty grandstands at Hockenheim last weekend.
In Auto Motor und Sport, he said he was "surprised" by the "lack of interest" in the German GP amid the fascinating 2012 season.
Indeed, Germans have seldom had more to cheer about in F1, with the grid boasting legend Michael Schumacher, the reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, three other race drivers and the Stuttgart marque, Mercedes.
But only 38,000 spectators attended on Friday, 50,000 for qualifying and 62,000 for Sunday's race.
In 2005 there were 110,000 spectators on the Sunday, declining to 78,000 in 2008 and 65,000 two years ago.
"Certainly, the ticket prices are extremely high and the financial crisis has an effect, but isn't this also true in England and Spain?" wrote Schmidt.
Indeed, in crisis-gripped Spain, 82,000 spectators turned out to watch Fernando Alonso in May.
Hockenheim boss Georg Seiler said the attendance figures for this year's race has allowed the circuit to break even.
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