Pierre Gasly has revealed he’s been the target of abuse from fans after his “joke” Fernando Alonso line after securing fourth place at the Bahrain Grand Prix for Toro Rosso Honda.

The French driver’s radio comment to his Toro Rosso squad stating “now we can fight” was shown by F1 broadcasters with Gasly’s quote a direct copy of Fernando Alonso’s reaction to securing fifth place for McLaren on its debut with Renault engines in Australia at the 2018 season opener.

Given the tensions and fallout from the failed McLaren-Honda partnership, Gasly says he made the comment over his team radio to give credit to Honda’s efforts improving its performance and reliability with its power unit.

During the build-up to the Chinese Grand Prix, Gasly says he’s been hit by a backlash from Alonso's fans for the comment but says he meant it as a joke while defending Honda’s efforts.

“For me it was simple, it was just a little joke,” Gasly said. “I think we need to give credit back to Honda. In the end, it was a really tough three years with McLaren and to finish P4 in just our second race with them is amazing so it was a way to give them back credit. They are working really hard and I think they need credit for the hard work they are doing.

“I’ve had some pretty tough messages after the race by some Spanish people, they were actually quite crazy. I have huge respect for Fernando so just to make it clear please don’t get me wrong.

“Fernando is one of the best drivers of all time in Formula 1 and one of the drivers I looked up to when I was young and he was one of my idols so I have a huge respect to him. It was nothing related to him it was a comment for Honda and I think they deserved the credit.”

Gasly’s fourth place finish was Honda’s best result since its return to F1 as an engine manufacturer and marked Toro Rosso’s equal-second best-ever result in its history.

 

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