Following an impressive rookie season last year with the Marussia F1 team, Charles Pic proved that he deserved his seat on the Formula 1 grid.
After graduating from the GP2 Series, the Frenchman performed solidly against his much more experienced team-mate Timo Glock, and his quiet, unassuming approach quickly earned him many admirers.
“I’m very happy about last year,” he told us during our one-on-one interview with him as the Australian Grand Prix weekend got underway yesterday.
“I had a very good year with Marussia; we improved throughout the year and it was very good overall.”
The deal to move to Caterham came during the 2012-13 off-season, where Pic was confirmed alongside Giedo van der Garde as part of a completely new race line-up for the upcoming season.
“I may have more F1 race experience than Giedo, but he has more racing experience overall under his belt and has been promoted from within the team,” he said, when asked about how he will compare against the Dutchman.
“None of this changes my approach: my job is to optimise the car race by race and extract 100% of its performance each time.”
Once the deal with Caterham as confirmed, it was straight into winter testing in Spain. The new CT03 hasn’t shown a great deal of pace in the early stages of the year, but Pic is quietly realistic of the team’s prospects.
“It’s always hard to know exactly where we are in terms of competitiveness given everyone is running to their own programme during testing,
“We will have to wait until Sunday qualifying to know where we truly are.”
While there are undoubtedly some differences between last year’s Marussia MR01 and his new mount, the biggest challenge for Pic has been getting used to KERS – something his previous employer didn’t have in 2012.
“The KERS is a significant feature to adapt to when you’ve not driven with it before, and you certainly feel it when you activate it!” he smiled.
When asked what goals he’s set himself for 2013: Pic’s focus is on playing the long-term game and continuously improving his performances.
“I want to be better than last year, absolutely,” he nodded.
“Last year, I was discovering everything about Formula 1 and experiencing many situations for the first time. Of course this year will be different because I will have had the previous experience learning the processes and the circuits. There are many things like that which will make my life easier in 2013. But I must remind myself that I am just 23 and I still have a big amount of progress to make, so I have to keep developing.”
One of his biggest influences is his manager, the former Grand Prix driver and France’s last racewinner in F1, Olivier Panis.
“For sure, he helps me a lot. He’s followed me since GP2 and he has plenty of experience in Formula 1, so his experience has been very important to me.”
With four Frenchman on the grid in 2013, Pic believes it’s high time that the sport makes a return to his homeland.
“It doesn’t matter at which circuit the race goes to – if it’s in France, that’s already mega,” he enthused.
“Of course it would be great to have a Grand Prix back in France. There are many nice circuits in France, but the most important thing is that it returns to my homeland. And soon.”
We offer our sincerest thanks to the Caterham F1 Team for their assistance in making this interview possible.