FIA president Jean Todt says he is deeply saddened by wild claims he snubbed Fernando Alonso during the pre-race build up to the Russian Grand Prix.
Videos being circulated on social media showed Todt not shaking hands with Alonso as he greeted all the drivers on the grid at Sochi.
The drivers had formed up in a line for the national anthem, before an emotional get-together to show their support for injured driver Jules Bianchi.
Aware of the presence of the video, FIA spokesman Matteo Bonciani said Todt was so upset at suggestions he had ignored Alonso - at a time when their mutual friend Bianchi was critically ill - that he wanted to clear up the situation immediately.
Speaking during a stopover on his return from Russia, Todt told AUTOSPORT: "When a guy is fighting for his life, it is so sad that people can suggest something like this.
"Before the race I had walked from the back of the grid and had already greeted a number of drivers.
"I had hugged Alonso shortly before they lined up, so there was no need to shake his hand.
"I have never been so close to Fernando as in this moment, as we think of our friend in hospital."