Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller has apologized to title contender Paul di Resta after the pair collided on the first lap of the DTM race at Adria on Sunday.
Rockenfeller ran into the back of di Resta at the final corner on the opening lap, tipping the Scot into a spin that dropped him to the back of the field.
Di Resta lost the championship lead to Bruno Spengler at the end of the race, and he will go into the season finale on the streets of Shanghai three points behind his teammate.
"Of course, I'm very sorry for Paul," said Rockenfeller. "There was no intent on my part. I didn't want to attack him but just defend myself from the rear. I was under a lot of pressure and I wanted to defend my line on the inside. I was driving on the inside of the curb, and Paul came from the outside.
"He was driving his racing line but the problem was that's exactly where I was. He wasn't expecting this either. If he had been on a different line we would have been OK."
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug added that he hopes the three title contenders – di Resta, Spengler and Gary Paffett – can all have clean races in the finale.
"A guy who is fighting for the championship should be respected," said Haug. "I think it is important that we don't have things like that at the final race in Shanghai. Of course, everybody wants to win the race, but if the championship is decided by accidents and cars driving into other cars then it is not right."