Caterham have confirmed that they have signed Charles Pic on a multi year contract for the 2013 season onwards.
“It is clear that he is a special talent,” said Caterham’s new team boss Cyril Abiteboul.
At present, it is unclear as to who will be partnering Pic at Caterham next season. Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov currently drive for the team however it is rumoured that Dutchman Giedo van der Garde will be given the drive.
Pic’s replacement at Marussia has yet to be confirmed however the F1 rumour mill strongly favours British driver Max Chilton.
Caterham’s new boss Cyril Abiteboul has all but confirmed paddock speculation Charles Pic is set to arrive at the team from Marussia for 2013.
And he said that would be part of the Tony Fernandes-owned team’s new “three year plan”.
On the issue of Frenchman Pic joining Caterham, France’s f1i.com quoted Abiteboul as saying: “This is a three year plan that we are working on, and there are still many factors that need to come together so that it is a reality.
“But this project seems interesting for everyone,” said the Frenchman.
It appears that highly rated Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen is being pushed out by ‘pay drivers’ due to Caterham potentially losing lucrative Concorde Agreement income to Marussia.
Kovalainen admitted on Thursday that Brazil could be his last grand prix.
It is believed that the main contender for the seat alongside Pic next year is the sponsored Dutch driver Giedo van der Garde.
“There is at least one more seat open,” said Kovalainen in Brazil. “It is still possible that I will get it.
“From my experience, I only know that when things drag on for this long, it’s never a good sign,” he admitted.
No action has been taken over the clash between Sergio Perez and Charles Pic during the final practice session for the US Grand Prix.
Pic was heading into Turn 7 when Perez tried to pass him down the inside. The two came together and Pic’s car was sent into a spin and was dealt minor floor damage.
Stewards have ruled that it was just a racing incident and no punishment will be given to either driver.
“Having heard from both drivers, the stewards are satisfied this was a racing incident,” the stewards said.
Charles Pic insists he is “not afraid” about following his Marussia predecessors through F1’s exit.
Before the well-backed Frenchman made his debut this year, the team ran Jerome d’Ambrosio (2011) and Lucas di Grassi (2010, as Virgin) as the experienced German Timo Glock’s teammate. Belgian d’Ambrosio left to become Lotus’ reserve driver after one season, while Brazilian di Grassi subsequently spent time as a Pirelli test driver but is now moving to touring cars.
“I’m not afraid about (experiencing) a scenario like that of Lucas di Grassi and Jerome d’Ambrosio,” 22-year-old Pic said in an interview with the Dutch magazine Formule 1. “All I can do is work as hard as possible and do my best. I’ll wait and see what happens at the end of the year.”
According to strong paddock speculation, Pic is tipped to take the solid funding of his family’s business – leading European transport company Groupe Charles Andre – to Caterham in 2013.
His likely successor is the similarly well-funded British GP2 driver Max Chilton, whose father is the vice-chairman of the major insurance multinational Aon. But Pic is not ruling out staying at Marussia.
“Compared to some other teams it is obviously smaller, but I’m getting to develop very well and it’s nice to work on growing up together,” he said.
A 21-year-old Briton has raced to the top of the list of candidates to make his F1 debut in 2013.
Marussia has signed GP2 driver Max Chilton – who is currently fifth in this year’s F1 support category – to be its reserve for the rest of the season. As soon as the announcement was made, insiders said Chilton is surely now the favourite to replace Charles Pic, should the well-funded Frenchman move as is strongly rumoured to Caterham next year. Chilton is also well funded, with his father Grahame being the vice-chairman of the Aon insurance group and a big motor racing fan.
Aon sponsors Chilton in GP2, as well as the touring car team that runs Tom Chilton, who is Max’s brother. The Daily Mail said Chilton could be fast-tracked into F1 action, perhaps initially in Friday practice for the Abu Dhabi grand prix.
And team boss John Booth said Chilton will be “fully prepared to step into the MR01 (car) should it be required”.
Charles Pic’s management is reportedly looking for a better driver for the French 22 year old French driver.
Pic’s first season in Formula One has seen him emerge as a solid driver alongside team mate Timo Glock, however but their Marussia car is among the very slowest in the F1 field. Pic made his debut this year with the substantial backing of the family business Groupe Charles Andre, a leading European transport company.
“There is the technical help from McLaren,” he is quoted by Le Dauphine Libere, “but it takes time to develop a young team like Marussia.”
Pic said he is “happy” with the first half-season of his F1 career, having set the target of getting close to the pace of his teammate Glock “as soon as possible”. According to paddock rumours, the next step could be a move to a faster team.
French broadcaster TF1 last week mentioned Caterham as one possibility for 2013, given Vitaly Petrov’s reported funding problems. Sauber is another rumoured possibility.
Asked about the speculation, Pic answered: “I’m focused on what I have to do to get out 100 per cent of the potential of my car. Of course it (the future) is open, and Olivier Panis and Didier Coton, who take care of me, are talking with teams, but that’s normal at this stage of the season. We’ll see.”
Marussia teammates Timo Glock and Charles Pic are still far from the best of friends.
We reported in July that the pair are not getting along, after the experienced German Glock accused his rookie French teammate of blocking him in Hungary.
“Maybe he doesn’t understand the English on the radio,” the angry Glock said.
He insisted it is “pointless” to try to sit down with the 22-year-old, because the blocking had happened several times this year. “It’s up to the team to solve it.”
The tension remains high, after the two Marussias fought hard for track position last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. Asked by Auto Motor und Sport if it was a “fair fight”, Glock answered: “Only to a certain point.
“That’s all I really want to say. There have been a couple of hairy situations that we have to resolve internally.”
Charles Pic’s management will reportedly meet with representatives of the Force India and Sauber teams this weekend at Spa.
According to RMC Sport, the 22-year-old French rookie takes EUR 7 million to the Marussia team this season, raised and invested by his management group Lagardere. The report said Lagardere has been disappointed by Marussia’s performance so far in 2012, and is therefore shopping around for possible alternatives for 2013.
RMC said Pic’s representatives will meet with bosses of the Force India and Sauber teams in Belgium this weekend, while Caterham “is also interested”. The report said Sauber and Force India “have made enquiries” about Pic, and so experienced manager Didier Coton will represent Lagardere and Pic in meetings this weekend.
Marussia’s technical consultant Pat Symonds said this week he is happy with the team’s current driver lineup, also featuring the experienced Timo Glock. And asked if he has been pleasantly surprised by Pic, he answered: “Yes, absolutely.
“I think this year he has matured in his approach in Formula One. There is no doubt that he’s fast; he has proven that on a number of occasions, and I think race-by-race he learns more about the nuances of the tyres and indeed the way one approaches a grand prix weekend.”
A feud is brewing at the back of the grid. Germany’s SID news agency said Marussia’s driver duo Timo Glock and Charles Pic are not getting along. The report said rookie Frenchman Pic, who outqualified and outraced his team leader in Hungary, held up German Glock in qualifying.
“Maybe he doesn’t understand the English on the radio,” an angry Glock was quoted as telling reporters after alleging he was blocked by Pic.
Glock, 30, said he has no intention of sitting down to discuss the issue with Pic.
“It’s pointless,” he insisted. “It is happening for the second or third time and so it’s up to the team to solve it.”
Marussia is yet to decide whether or not to keep French rookie Charles Pic on board for 2013.
Since the team’s inception as Virgin in 2010, Timo Glock’s teammate has been constantly changing. In 2010 the German was paired with Lucas di Grassi, last year it was Jerome d’Ambrosio, and this year the second cockpit is occupied by 22-year-old Pic.
Pic told Ria Novosti news agency: “I think I have to stay focused on this year and make a good job, and if I do a good job it (a new contract) will come naturally for next year.”
Team chief executive Andy Webb admitted a decision has not been taken.
“Usually those decisions are made at the end of the season. We are constantly studying the situation with the drivers, but I will say that we are happy with Charles Pic,” he is quoted by the Russian website Championat.