Talks between Sauber and Mercedes development driver Pascal Wehrlein have been put on hold as the F1 giant considers replacing Nico Rosberg with the young German.
Rosberg's shock retirement last Friday has Mercedes scrambling to find a replacement in time for the 2017 season. Heavyweights of F1 in Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have been touted as potential targets to replace him, but their contracts with McLaren and Ferrari respectively complicate matters.
Mercedes do have the option of looking within their own ranks in finding a partner for Lewis Hamilton, however.
The 22-year-old Wehrlein cut his teeth on the grid during the second half of last season with Manor Racing. Force India considered him for a seat for the upcoming campaign following the departure of Nico Hulkenberg, only to eventually opt for another Mercedes development driver in Estaban Occo.
In addition to Mercedes of course, Sauber and Manor are the only teams still looking to find drivers with the Swiss still hoping to sign up Wehrlein.
Mercedes however have halted those talks while they consider their next step. "The talks between us and Sauber are at an advanced state," Mercedes chief Toto Wolff told German news agency DPA. "In the last couple of weeks I had good talks with them. But due to the new situation they are put on hold for the moment.
"Pascal is an ambitious young man. He has big aims and we share those aims. This is why he is part of our development programme."
Mercedes had hoped for Wehrlein to continue his development next season with a team further down the grid. But with Rosberg's departure leaving them in a difficult position, they may have to scrap those plans.
"He's done a year with Manor. And if I could do a Christmas wish list I would wish for him to have another year or two at a midfield team. But there won't be a Christmas wish list for me this year.
"Therefore, we have to aim for a good compromise. And as Nico had to take a brave decision, maybe we have to take a brave decision as well."