Sauber team boss Fred Vasseur says Pascal Wehrlein still has a chance of retaining his seat at the Swiss outfit next season.
It was believed the German driver would not figure into Sauber's 2018 plans given team mate Marcus Ericsson's close relationship with the oufit's owners, Longbow Financial.
But as he weighs his driver options for the next year, Vasseur insists the Swedish driver won't necessarily enjoy a free pass thanks to his special relationships.
"It would be a mistake to build a team around a driver just because he has a connection to the owner," Vasseur told Auto Motor und Sport.
"Rebuilding Sauber will require patience, while drivers normally want results in the next race.
"So if he wants to sit in a podium car next year, he will have a problem with Sauber. We will talk with the owners about what is best for Marcus and the team," said the Frenchman.
Vasseur hinted that at least one Sauber's seats is likely to be filled by a Ferrari junior in 2018, either Charles Leclerc or Antonio Giovinazzi. The former will run with the Swiss outfit in four remaining FP1 outings this year.
"We will discuss this with Ferrari in the coming days," he said.
"For us, the engine choice had priority and we did not want to mix that with the driver question. It would have taken too much time. There is now the opportunity to do that in peace.
But the French manager insisted that Wehrlein was also still in the frame.
"Pascal knows our situation, and I know his skills because we worked together in the DTM," said Vasseur.
"If you want to rebuild a team, you need not only fast drivers, but those who are willing to work with the team and push it in the right direction," he added.