Top Gear host Chris Evans has said it is "bizarre" that Jeremy Clarkson was fired for "losing his rag over his dinner" after surviving several prior international incidents unscathed.
Clarkson was suspended and then fired by the BBC after a "fracas" when he punched Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon. The incident occurred after Clarkson was told there was no hot food available after a day of filming.
Asked whether Clarkson deserved to be fired, Evans told GQ magazine: "What is more fascinating is that he went for what he went for, considering what had gone on before.
"If you look at the chronology of controversy of Top Gear over the last five or six years, it is bizarre that he went for losing his rag over his dinner when there had been international incidents before that."
During his career as Top Gear host, Clarkson was accused of making several xenophobic or racist comments, including saying a car manufactured in Mexico would be lazy, and calling Romania "Borat country, with gypsies and Russian playboys," causing local unrest.
He also faced a mob in Argentina after driving a car with the numberplate H982 FKL, which many Argentinians believed was a reference to the Falklands War.
Evans said Clarkson remains his hero, although the two have not met in some time.
He said: "We used to get on. I don't know if we still get on because I haven't seen him in ages. But he is one of my heroes. He's entertaining. He was great on Top Gear and I love his writing."
Evans added: "He is funny. He deconstructs things really well. They say if you can explain complicated things to a six-year-old you know what you're talking about, and I am like his six-year-old."
The new Top Gear host, who will make his debut when the show airs at the end of May, also brushed off the idea that the show's line-up of presenters is an attempt at being "politically correct".
Evans said: "Some people want to infer that, but no. I hired the people I thought we needed.
"My job is to present and when they signed me up they said do what you want with it."
Presenters include female motor racing driver Sabine Schmitz, and YouTube car reviewer Rory Reid, who is black.
:: GQ magazine is on sale from Tuesday.