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Pic confident ahead of second year in F1

27 February 2013

A year ago, Charles Pic was set to go into his first F1 Grand Prix despite having missed out on pre-season testing. A year on and much has changed: he's no longer a rookie but instead has a full season of Grand Prix races behind him.

"My confidence level is good," the 23-year-old Frenchman told ESPN this week. "Last year was my first year so I have more experience now and of course I feel better and more prepared for the first race.

"I think in your first year you have many things to learn in F1 because you have many tools that can help you to optimise the car that you can play with," he explained. "You have many things to learn. I think what is important is to be able to know them all and use them all."

Last year he was in Marussia colours, but in 2013 he's switched to Caterham racing green. Not only is he no longer the rookie in the sport, he's even the senior driver for the squad since his team mate in 2013 will be Giedo van der Garde, freshly arrived from the GP2 Series.

"Giedo is a very good driver," said Pic, who also made his mark in the feeder series before switching to F1 last year. "I had one year with him in GP2 so I know him and it's good.

"I have one more year's experience compared to him [in F1] but he's been racing for longer than me," Pic pointed out. "We will see, I'm sure he will do a very good job this year and then of course I will give my best too."

Having made enough of a name for himself in his maiden season in the sport to clinch a new seat in 2013 - after Timo Glock's sudden exit last month, he'll be the only former Marussia driver to survive to take a place on the 2013 grid - Pic now has to set himself some raised targets for his sophomore season. However, he admits he's not yet sure what the team and the car will be capable of in race trim at this point.

"I think we have to wait and see where we are in Melbourne, this is the first thing. Then we will have to progress through the year," he said. "I see that all the team is very motivated to make a good job this year and progress."

But getting championship points will be difficult, Pic conceded.

"I know it will be very, very hard and we will need some changing conditions a bit like the last race in Brazil. But we will see," he said. "We will have to wait until Melbourne."

Pic is certainly putting the work in, having completed 317 laps of testing so far in pre-season sessions at Jerez and Barcelona, despite being hampered by a gearbox problem on the first day at the Circuit de Catalunya last week.

"I think at the moment we're still in basic testing, so on this side it's gone quite well," he said. "We have all the information that we wanted and now in the final test I think it will be more about optimisation for Melbourne."

Pic also took the opportunity to compete in the unique 'Race of Stars' ice racing event held in Russia at Moscow's Hippodrome at the weekend. Experienced ice racer Kimi Raikkonen was also competing in the event, but for Pic it was the first time in such conditions.

"I tried out the Renault Duster, which was fitted with snow tyres. It was an experience and tricky to find the grip on the slippery surface," he said. "Then I tried out the Logan with the studded tyres and it was even harder! It took a few laps to get up to speed but once I got used to it I enjoyed it."

Snow and ice will certainly not be a problem for Pic next month when he lines up on the starting grid for the first time in a Caterham for the season-opening F1 Grand Prix of Australia in Albert Park, Melbourne on March 17.

And beyond this season? Pic isn't prepared to even start thinking about the longer term picture at this point.

"I don't want to think about 2014," he said. "In order to be good in 2014 we have to think through 2013 and make the right job in 2013.

"When we are in 2014 we can think about 2014, but we have to be focused on now and what we can do to optimise what we have now and improve ourselves from where we are now," he added.


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