Who is Charles Pic?

By on Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Charles Pic

With the recent announcement of the comeback of Kimi Raikkonen – generating much publicity and enthusiasm – and the return of Pedro de La Rosa with HRT – generating much less enthusiasm, one driver announcement has been largely ignored.

Perhaps the timing of the announcement was poor, given that it had been expected – and denied by the team – for several weeks. But on Sunday evening, Marussia announced that Charles Pic would drive for them next season.

Pic doesn’t have the fanfare that has come with several other young drivers, most notably Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg. Timo Glock confessed to needing to use Google to look Pic up. So who is Charles Pic?

Pic, 21, hails from Montélimar, the second largest commune in the Drôme department, in South-eastern France. Pic is one of a possible ‘golden generation’ of French drivers, with Romain Grosjean, Jules Bianchi and Jean Eric Vergne waiting in the wings.

 After stints in single seaters in French championships, Pic moved up to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2008, dominating in Monaco and adding a further win in Le Mans to finish a respectable 6th in the championship. A further two victories in 2009 saw him end up 3rd in the championship, despite spinning off on the formation lap for the first race of the season.

At the end of 2009, Pic moved to GP2 Asia, winning the sprint race in Bahrain with Arden International. He stayed with the team for the main series and won on his GP2 debut, eventually finishing 10th in the championship in 2010. A strong start to the 2011 GP2 season with Barwa Addax saw Pic move to the lead of the championship in Valencia, having taken two wins and a pole position. However, his consistency waned and he ended up 4th in the title race, a few points ahead of team mate Giedo van der Garde.

When a planned test with Team Lotus in Abu Dhabi was called off, rumours emerged that Pic was now solely focusing his efforts on Marussia Virgin. He set respectable times in the few days that he was with the team.

So what can the world expect from the Frenchman next season? Well two seasons have yielded few promising results for Virgin. Timo Glock, in his own right a very talented racer, has dragged the maximum out of the two cars. Lucas di Grassi spent much of 2010 either parked on the site of the road or in the barriers. Jerome d’Ambrosio was much better, although Pic’s sponsorship far outweighed his Belgian rival. Hence Pic has the seat. Pic will be hoping that the 3rd car to come out of Dunnington will be much stronger than the previous two. A technical tie up with McLaren should move the team forward, although Pic will always be looking over his shoulder. Pic replaces d’Ambrosio, who in turn replaced di Grassi. A season similar to d’Ambrosio’s may well result in another driver coming along and replacing Pic. Rule Number One will be to keep it out of the wall. Number Two will be to match, and beat, Glock.

Pic has been fairly impressive in junior formulae and makes his debut at a much younger age than his predecessors. At 21, he has a lot to learn but has the potential to improve hugely as a racing driver. French motor racing may well have potential stars in Vergne, Grosjean and Bianchi, but don’t assume that Pic will be content just to make up the numbers.

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