Caterham confirms first 2013 signing
23 November 2012
As has become more widely expected in recent weeks, Charles Pic has been announced as the first signing for the Caterham F1 team ahead of the 2013 season.
The French driver was confirmed as stepping up to F1 ahead of last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, and the Interlagos paddock was the backdrop for Caterham to reveal that it had inked him to a 'multi-year contract' after being impressed by his performances alongside veteran Timo Glock for back of the grid rival Marussia this season.
"We are thrilled that Charles has decided to join us for his second season in F1 - and beyond," new Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul commented, "We are all looking forward to working with a young driver who has clearly shown, in his first season in F1, that he has the pace, racecraft and demeanour to help us achieve our goals.
"Throughout the 2012 season, we have been monitoring the progress that Charles has made, challenging us on several occasions in qualifying, and it is clear that he is a special talent. As the year has progressed, he has performed extremely well against a very experienced team-mate and we are looking forward to seeing him develop further within the environment we will provide in 2013 and beyond.
"We will continue growing together, and the energy and image he will bring to our team and his partners will be a very positive influence on the seasons that lie ahead. Being able to make this announcement before the end of the current season gives us the chance to allow Charles and the team to prepare fully for the 2013 season and quickly learn how to maximise the performance benefits of the Renault Sport F1 and Red Bull Technology powertrain that will be new to him."
Pic was a frontrunner in the GP2 Series before being picked up by Marussia to replace Jerome d'Ambrosio for 2012 and, while not having a car capable of scoring points in his first year, has out-qualified Glock on six occasions.
"I am very proud to be able to confirm that I am joining Caterham F1 team next year, and I'm looking forward to many seasons of successful racing cooperation," he said,
“I am very excited about starting my second year in F1 with a team that has so much potential. Caterham has everything in place to help it move into a position to fight with a number of teams ahead. I know how determined the team is to keep progressing and I am looking forward to playing my part in helping them move up the grid."
Pic also noted Caterham's various French connections as positive influences on his decision to sign up.
"I'm enthusiastic to have the opportunity to continue to grow in a team that has a technical relationship with a number of French global companies, including Renault and Total, plus an official partnership with EADS," he explained, "It is clear that the team has great ambitions for the future: the investments already made and the decisions taken in the last few months show how committed the shareholders are to succeed and demonstrates their willingness to keep going forward. The prospect of the automotive industry project nurtured by Caterham Group to produce sports road cars in conjunction with Renault is another reason for my decision to join the team. I would like to thank Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun for the roles they have played in helping make this dream come true."
Engine partner Renault was also happy to see French talent being added to the line-up, the second half of which remains clouded by the uncertainty surrounding current pilots Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov, both of whom could lose out to well-funded reserve Giedo van der Garde for 2013.
“We are always motivated to see promising drivers in our partner teams and Charles is no exception," Renault Sport MD Jean-François Caubet added, "Additionally, France remains the largest Renault market and having another young, dynamic French driver join the Renault 'stable' will give us further branding, marketing and PR opportunities, both for our F1 involvement and road car range in France and the rest of Europe. We look forward to working with him closely over the coming years.”
Pic will contest his last grand prix for Marussia in Brazil this weekend. He is widely expected to be replaced by Britain's Max Chilton, who has tested with the Banbury-based team on several occasions in the past year.