Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Friday, November 23, 2012
Frenchman Charles Pic has been confirmed as a Caterham driver from next season, leaving a question mark over who will fill the remaining seat.
The Marussia driver has been handed a “multi-year contract for 2013 and beyond” after impressing in his first season on the F1 grid, Caterham confirmed on Friday morning.
It seems likely Pic will step into Vitaly Petrov’s seat, while Heikki Kovalainen’s future beyond this season may rest on Caterham reclaiming 10th place in the constructors’ championship in the final race of the season, at Interlagos on Sunday.
A 12th placed finish or better ahead of Marussia will bring that and around £7m of additional revenue, which would most likely ensure Kovalainen’s fourth season at the Hingham-backed team.
If they fail, current reserve driver and former Renault World Series champion with Norfolk outfit P1 Motorsport Giedo van der Garde is a strong candidate to take his first F1 seat – bringing with him a significant sponsorship funding boost for Caterham in the process.
“We are thrilled Charles has decided to join us for his second season in F1 and beyond,” said Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
“We are all looking forward to working with a young driver who has clearly shown in his first season he has the pace, race craft 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 (Timo Glock) and we are looking forward to seeing him develop further within the environment we will provide in 2013 and beyond.
“Being able to make this announcement before the end of the current season gives us the chance now to allow Charles and the team to prepare fully for the 2013 season.”
Pic added: “I am very proud and I’m looking forward to many seasons of successful racing cooperation. 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.
“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.”