Max Verstappen was left lost for words when it was put to him ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix that being his Red Bull team-mate can damage a career.
Dutch superstar Verstappen is heading into the second half of the 2019 season with a new Red Bull colleague in Alexander Albon after Pierre Gasly was demoted to Toro Rosso.
Gasly had himself been new to the role at the start of the campaign after replacing Daniel Ricciardo, who left for Renault having seemingly been frustrated by playing second fiddle to Verstappen.
In Thursday's pre-race news conference, one journalist asked Verstappen if he might understand drivers being nervous by the prospect of joining him.
The 21-year-old was told "it can damage their careers".
Verstappen audibly scoffed and bowed his head before replying with some bafflement: "Well, I don't know. I think everybody always tries to do the best they can.
"I don't know what to answer. That's a bit s*** to answer. I don't know."
Verstappen was more comfortable discussing his own outstanding form before the four-week break, with two wins in his past four races.
"I think it's quite natural," he said. "You get older and more experienced, so it's not a big surprise what is happening at the moment.
Great first half of the season from these record breaking boys pic.twitter.com/mAsEK9BlvZ
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) August 5, 2019
"It's a natural process that when you go through that you become better. It would be bad if you're already declining at 21."
However, the Red Bull star fears the battle for consistency will cost him any chance of chasing down drivers' championship leader and defending champion Lewis Hamilton.
"I always try to do the best I can," Verstappen said. "I think it's just going to be a bit track-dependent for us, where we are going to be more competitive.
"I'm expecting this [Spa] to be a bit more tricky and also, especially, Monza. But from there onwards...
"Also we have upgrades coming to the car. Of course, everyone is doing that, but in recent years, we have always been quite strong in developing the car throughout the year.
"We'll have a few tracks where I think we can have a good go, but for the championship? I don't think so. I always try to get the best out of every single race weekend and we'll find out at the end."