Last year, Sauber almost collapsed financially, with its survival ensured only by a Marcus Ericsson-linked buyout and millions in F1 prize money snatched from the grasp of Wehrlein’s former team Manor.
“Yes, the loss of the tenth place in the championship was the killer (for Manor),” admitted Wehrlein, “because it cost them around $20 million.”
But now, as Wehrlein switches from the defunct Manor to Sauber, it is believed the young German’s new team Sauber will be bringing up the rear in 2017.
That is due in part to Sauber using Ferrari’s year-old power unit, even though boss Monisha Kaltenborn insists it will not be a major handicap.
But Wehrlein, 22, told the Swiss newspaper Blick: “The construction of the new car forced Sauber to take that decision.
“Clearly, it will be hard for us if the others are constantly developing their engines.”
Still, Wehrlein is expecting an easier time in F1 with Sauber compared to Manor.
“(At Manor) we had about 200 employees, Sauber has 350. Compared to the others that is still a small number, but Sauber has one of the best wind tunnels. I was really blown away on my first visit,” he said.
Wehrlein scored just 1 point in 2016, but ahead of his Sauber debut he declared: “I am sure we will score more than that.
“At least we will be able to constantly develop the car.”