Pierre Gasly denied he is looking for a feud with "idol" Fernando Alonso over his defence of Toro Rosso's Honda engine.
Gasly has 'huge respect' for Alonso
Toro Rosso driver Gasly finished fourth at the Bahrain Grand Prix, representing the best result with a Honda engine in the V6 turbo era of Formula One.
And that impressive finish came just a fortnight after McLaren's Alonso had finished fifth in Melbourne and claimed he could compete now his team has switched Honda engines for Renault, saying: "Now we can fight."
Gasly repeated the same words after Bahrain, but insists he was only intending to credit Honda, having been the subject of social media fury from fans of two-time world champion Alonso.
"I just wanted to give credit back to Honda," the Frenchman said at a news conference ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.
"They had three tough years with McLaren, and to finish fourth in our second race was amazing. Honda are working really hard and they deserve credit for that.
"Don't get me wrong, I had some pretty tough messages after the race from some Spanish people. It was quite crazy. I have huge respect for Fernando. Fernando is one of the best drivers of all time in Formula One, and one of the drivers I looked at when I was younger, one of my idols.
"It was nothing related, it was just a comment for Honda because they deserve the credit."
Gasly positive after Bahrain
Gasly is now looking to build on his impressive finish and become a regular at the front of the pack.
"We expect to be competitive after what we learned in Bahrain," he said. "We know that to have a similar performance, we have to be on top of everything and do everything perfectly.
"The track layout is not one of our favourites with the long back straight, but we have to have a good car in the middle part of the race.
"We were faster than expected in Bahrain, so it's difficult to know what will be the performance of the car."