MotoGP safety director Franco Uncini has dismissed suggestions that Valentino Rossi's standing resulted in the Italian receiving a less severe penalty following his clash with Marc Marquez.
Rossi will start from the back of the grid at next week's season-ending race in Valencia after he was penalised for knocking Marquez off his bike as the pair tussled during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
It has been suggested that any other rider would have been black-flagged immediately or have been docked points, but that as a nine-time World Champion who is in the running for his 10th title, Rossi was slapped with a lighter sanction.
Uncini has said this was certainly not the case, and that it was decided that an incident of such severity needed to be properly considered rather than rushing to make a call on the matter.
"As soon as we saw the contact, we would have penalised Valentino immediately," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"To us it seemed obvious that he was pushing Marquez off line.
"But we decided to keep following the race, speak to the riders, and look again at the clash."
"The decision was too important, and not because it concerned Rossi, but because it would have influenced the outcome of the championship. Race direction could not afford to make mistakes.
"The delay for the decision was only due to the need to evaluate well every aspect. Once responsibilities were established, we did not make any discount."
While Rossi was sanctioned for causing Marquez's crash, Uncini has revealed that no final decision was made as to whether or not the Movistar Yamaha rider intentionally kicked Marquez.
"With a lack of certain proof, we abstained from judging the leg movement," he said.
"It could have slipped due to the contact."
Marquez has been widely criticised for trying to slow Rossi, even though he has protested that he did not, and Yamaha have questioned why the Spaniard was not punished for his part in the incident.
But Uncini has said that while Marquez's desire to tussle with Rossi may not have pleased everyone, he was not breaking any rules.
"It was extreme, but within the limits," said Uncini.
"It's not written anywhere that one must go 100 per cent on every lap.
"You can decide your pace considering tyre degradation, fuel, engine. Even with the suspicion, we have no proof that Marc was impeding him on purpose.
"Why should we penalise overtaking manoeuvres equal to a thousand others? As long as they are within the rules, they're welcome. They are great and a spectacle.
"You can suspect that Marquez was looking for a fight, but Rossi could have reacted differently.
"And the tension in the previous days was one-directional: Valentino had accused Marc of favouring [Jorge] Lorenzo, but the Spaniard had always denied that."
MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb expressed similar sentiments after the racing, telling crash.net: "It's my opinion on the way he was riding, the lap time, my perception is that as many riders do he [Marquez] was trying to change the race. But I was very clear with him that he didn't break a rule. So he's not been penalised."