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Pic secures F1 seat with Marussia for 2012

by Peter Allen

Photo: GP2 Media Service

Marussia Virgin Racing have confirmed that French GP2 graduate Charles Pic will step up to F1 with them in 2012…

21-year-old Pic has raced in the GP2 Series for the past two seasons, this year taking three pole positions and two race wins on his way to fourth in the final standings. He was actually second in the standings going into the very last race at Monza, but retired after contact at the first chicane, ending up just two points shy of Luca Filippi in the runner-up battle.

“I?m very pleased to welcome Charles to Marussia Virgin Racing as Timo?s team-mate for 2012,” said team boss John Booth. “We naturally keep a close eye on the junior formulae and Charles is certainly someone we have been watching over the past few years. The real barometer however was our Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi last week, where we put him through a series of tough tests to thoroughly evaluate his potential. This was his first time in a Formula One car so it should have been quite daunting, however Charles was extremely focused on what needed to be done and absolutely rose to the challenge. He continued to improve in every area but his race simulation work particularly caught our eye.

“Winter testing will be upon us before we know it, so it is actually a relatively short space of time ahead with a lot for Charles to get used to, but he is an extremely determined young guy and he worked very well with the team last week. He has an extremely mature head on young shoulders, so I have no doubt that he will be working very hard over the winter to prepare for his debut season.”

Pic added: “I?m very happy to be making the step up to Formula One with Marussia Virgin Racing. As a driver you always feel you are ready for the next opportunity but in Abu Dhabi last week it was a tough test. The team gave me some fantastic opportunities to learn new things but I also knew that I had to impress them and show them I was ready to do a good job. I was pleased with my performance, and obviously the team were too, so a very good start but this is just the beginning and I know that a lot of hard work is ahead of me to reward this chance.

“I like the team a lot; we worked well together in the test and I feel very comfortable. They want to do things the right way and I can see that there is a lot of determination to succeed, so it is very special for me to be part of that. I?m looking forward to working hard in every area over the winter to ensure I am ready for the start of testing and my first Grand Prix.”

After a strong season in the ICA Junior class of karting in 2005 that included third in the European Championship, second in the Italian Open Masters and winning the Andrea Margutti Trophy, Pic stepped up to car racing in 2006 when he took part in Formula Renault Campus in France, finishing the season in third place.

He moved onto Formula Renault 2.0 in 2007, finishing fourth in the French championship and a strong third in the Eurocup.

Formula Renault 3.5 beckoned for 2008, and he had an impressive first year in the category finishing sixth in the standings. At Monaco he took his first pole position and went onto win the race taking the fastest lap on the way. He would take a further win on home soil on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans. In 2009 he improved to third in the FR3.5 standings, winning races at Silverstone and the Nurburgring.

His step up to GP2 came in the winter of 2009-10, when he contested the Asia Series with the Arden team. He won a race at Bahrain on his way to fifth in the standings. Remaining wiht Arden for the main campaign in 2010, he got off to a flying start with victory in the season opener at Barcelona. At Hockenheim he scored a pole position before finishing third. He would end the season tenth in the standings.

Pic switched to the Addax team for 2011, but got off to a poor start with the Spanish team by not scoring any points in the four-race Asia Series. In the main season he would again win the feature race at Barcelona, and then won the sprint race in Monaco. Pole position followed in Valencia – but he wouldn’t be able to do anything with it as his car broke on the way to the grid. Further pole positions would come at the Nurburgring and Monza, though both resulted in second-place finishes.

He made his F1 debut at the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi last week with the Marussia Virgin team.

You can see our original profile of Charles, written after his Monaco victory this year, by clicking here.