Pascal Wehrlein says that Mercedes probably did him a favour by not signing him in 2017 as a replacement to retired world champion Nico Rosberg.
As a Mercedes protégé, the 22-year-old German was thought to be first in line to inherit the plum Silver arrows drive, but the German team ultimately privileged experience over youth when it hired Valtteri Bottas.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to waiting for a top F1 seat, according to Wehrlein.
"Toto told me he didn't want to burn me," he told Germany's Sport Bild.
"He said they still believe in me and that I should instead build myself up in peace. Of course I hoped for a change to the world champion team, but when Mercedes went for Bottas, I wasn't too disappointed.
"Why? Because my original 'plan A' was still fulfilled," he said.
Wehrlein's 'plan A' involved a move from the now extinct Manor outfit to Sauber, and that is exactly what the German got.
Despite Sauber likely lining up towards the rear of the grid, with its 2017 C36 powered by a year-old Ferrari power unit, Wehrlein deems himself happy with his current state of affairs.
"Sauber is at the beginning of an era," he said.
"There is enormous potential in the team and I am proud to be a part of this building back up. We have a highly professional, international team."
Wehrlein admitted to have bee highly impressed by the Swiss outfit's state of the art wind tunnel at Hinwil.
"As I said, I think there is huge potential in the team. But we will have to have a little patience."