Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has ruled Lewis Hamilton's pit wall contact was not to blame for the team's disastrous Russian Grand Prix qualifying.
With Hamilton's title rival Max Verstappen starting at the back of the grid after a complete PU change, Mercedes had hoped to capitalise on Red Bull's pain.
Hamilton looked on course to secure pole position in difficult intermediate conditions but slid into the pit wall and damaged his front wing entering the pits for slick tyres late in Q3.
Although the resultant wing change caused a delay to Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Wolff believes the incident was not to blame for Mercedes' fourth and seventh places in qualifying.
“There are these situations which are really unfortunate," Wolff told Sky Sports F1. "It’s not even that we made a mistake or the drivers contributed to it.
"We were the first cars out in the session and that is why we were in a sequence that either we would have aborted the last two runs on the intermediate to get two soft runs in or, like we played it safe, finish the lap, which we did.
“At the end, even without Lewis’ kiss on the way, we wouldn’t have been able to do two laps.”
With the benefit of hindsight, Wolff conceded: "Honestly, if you let me turn back [time], what we would change is not to go out first on the track but to go out a minute later.
"But knowing that this would have these consequences at the end is crystal ball reading."
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