Rookie Report: Charles Pic

The young French driver’s appointment came as a bit of a surprise, not least to his eventual team mate Timo Glock who admitted to needing to google him. When he spoke to Auto Motor und Sport Glock quipped, “What does he look like? I think if he’s really coming to [Marussia] then I’ll have to google him some time.” Perhaps not the most lauded of arrivals we’ve had, this year he’s had to contend with the return of Kimi Raikkonen, compared to other rookies, Paul di Resta for example.

Although there is an impression that Pic has simply turned up to the paddock, he has hauled himself up through the ranks like countless others before him, and with a degree of consistency.

So how did he end up at Marussia?

Sponsorship is a major concern here as undoubtably his seat was secured with a healthy level of backing, but before we tumble down that well-worn path of the pay-driver argument, to get sponsorship a driver must show his worth. Pic also has the backing of ex-driver (Toyota, Ligier and BAR) Olivier Panis.

Back to his ascent, Pic began his career in karting before graduating through several single seater series. Starting with the Formula Renault Campus in his home nation in 2006 he finished the year in third with one win and two pole positions. He had a similar result in the following year within the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 again finishing in third, keeping his schedule full he also finished fourth in the French version of the series.

In 2008 and 2009 he competed in Formula Renault 3.5 for Tech 1 Racing, his first attempt saw him take two wins (including Monaco) and an overall position of sixth. During 2009 he improved to third with two wins. At the end of 2009 he made the step up to GP2 driving for Arden International in the Asia series. Pic remained with the team when he took to the full GP2 series in 2010, hitting the ground running he won his the first race but found points hard to come by later on to come tenth. Switching to Addax for both the 2011 full GP2 and Asia series he improved his GP2 standing with two wins and three pole positions to leave himself in fourth.

Like most future Formula One drivers he first showed his mettle during the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi last year, ending the three days 23rd out of 25 drivers, mixing it up with the other Marussia (then Virgin) and HRT drivers. Despite fierce rumours that Charles Pic had already signed for the team, Marussia delayed the announcement until the Brazilian GP leaving the outgoing driver Jerome d’Ambrosio is an awkward position.

Regardless, Pic hasn’t simply stepped into a team in which success will come easily, however a technical link with McLaren should give them a nudge in the right direction. But this is something the French driver has considered, talking about the limited testing he has ahead of the first race in Australia his answer was frank. “I am not worried about it, but I need to be aware of it. It means I need to set up a timetable to make sure I can learn things in a different way. Six days of testing is a very short period of time, and not quite enough to be ready for Melbourne.” He’s also joined a team who isn’t afraid to send drivers a P45 if necessary. Impressing his bosses is a must if he wants to avoid the same destiny as Lucas di Grassi and the aforementioned d’Ambrosio, so Glock  must be his benchmark.



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