Charles Pic: a decade in the making
Ever since receiving his first go-kart on his 12th birthday from none other than his godfather and French former grand prix star Eric Bernard, Charles has been chasing his own dream of succeeding in Formula 1. Indeed, what began as a simple leisure activity quickly became a passion.
At 13 Charles was a late starter in the world of competitive karting but, with Eric’s expert hand guiding him, soon belied his inexperience by achieving strong results in the Italian and French championships.
In 2006 it was time to make the step-up to single-seaters where he immediately felt at home en route to finishing third in the French Formula Campus series.
The following season he made the considerable jump to Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. Amidst an ultra-competitive field Charles excelled, again finishing third overall and ending the year as rookie champion.
The success that had defined his early career continued as he moved up to World Series by Renault’s premier category, Formula Renault 3.5, aged just 18. Charles would score two victories that year, including one around Monaco’s soaking city streets, on his way to another rookie title and sixth overall. The points total also helped his Tech 1 Racing outfit clinch the Teams’ crown.
Sticking with Tech 1 for 2009, Charles scored two further wins in the category to eventually end the year third.
2010 would bring with it a change of surroundings and a chance to immerse himself in the grand prix paddock with a switch to Formula 1’s official feeder category, GP2. Charles’ desire to fully understand the car and engage with his new Arden team resulted in him moving to the UK prior to the season’s start, a decision that would pay off dramatically…
Despite picking up a victory and finishing fifth overall in the 2009/10 GP2 Asia Series, the paddock was nevertheless stunned when Charles won on debut in the main series at Barcelona. He would ultimately finish 10 th at the end of the campaign but had gained the experience to mount a title challenge the following year when he joined Barwa Addax Team.
A spate of mechanical issues would hinder his chances though and in spite of two victories – one again coming at Monaco – and three more second places, further podium chances undoubtedly went begging.
After finishing fourth overall he and new technical advisor Olivier Panis – a man whose own greatest racing chapter was written at Monaco – decided that Formula 1 should be the target for 2012. A successful outing with Marussia at Abu Dhabi’s end-of-season young driver test followed and ultimately led to a race seat.
In uncompetitive machinery Charles’ first season in motorsport’s top flight was never going to be easy. But the young Frenchman acquitted himself well and stuck to the task, winning praise from many areas of the hardened F1 press and industry insiders. And having compared favourably to highly-rated team-mate Timo Glock, there was understandably interest from other quarters.
And so it was, in November, that Caterham F1 Team announced they had won the race to secure Charles’ services for 2013 and beyond…