Jari-Matti Latvala would not have left the scene of his Monte Carlo Rally crash if he had any idea he had hit a spectator, insists Volkswagen's World Rally Championship team.
Latvala received a suspended one-rally ban from the stewards after knocking a fan to the ground as he recovered following an excursion on the 2016 WRC opener's Lardier et Valenca-Faye stage on Saturday.
The sanction was incurred because Latvala did not stop to check the condition of the spectator, who is believed to be unhurt.
VW team principal Jost Capito said the squad had no reason to doubt Latvala's assertion that he could not see the fan.
"There was so much steam and mud on the screen," Capito told Autosport.
"I think he saw something, but he did not see the guy on the bonnet.
"Jari-Matti is not a guy who would not stop if he realised he had hit somebody.
"This guy is crying when a fly hits his windscreen."
The stewards' report highlighted differing accounts of a conversation between Latvala and WRC TV reporter Julian Porter when the Finn was trying to repair his car after the stage.
Porter had claimed Latvala was aware he had hit a spectator and wanted to find out his condition.
Latvala's memory of the conversation was that he did not know for sure if he had struck anyone.
Capito said: "What this shows is what Jari-Matti's character is like.
"He was repairing the car, but he wanted to know if he hit somebody, he wanted to know if they were alright.
"I think that influenced the stewards to understand that Jari-Matti doesn't just care about the car and the rally, he cares about the people."
The McLaren Formula 1 team-bound VW chief added that he thought Latvala's penalty was fair.
"If you do something wrong, it doesn't matter if you do it on purpose or not, you do something wrong," Capito said.
"And it was not right. If he sees people around him, he could have stopped and asked 'is everybody fine?' That would have been the right reaction."
Capito is confident the incident will not affect Latvala mentally.
"He is professional. He very much appreciates how the team handled it and stands behind him," he said.
"The whole situation was handled totally professionally, on the PR side, on the technical side, on the human side. That helps Jari-Matti a lot to be in a good position for Sweden"
VW's attempts to contact the spectator to enquire about his health have proved fruitless.
"We went through Facebook and social media to try to contact him," said Capito.
"We didn't achieve that, but the guys who were in the same place came back to us and said 'it's OK, no problem.'"