Pic to land F1 seat in 2012 UPDATE #6 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement that Pic will drive for Marussia in 2012.
11/14/11 It is yet to be officially confirmed but I am reliably assured that Charles Pic has signed to drive for Marussia Racing in 2012, with an option to stay with the team in 2013. Timo Glock is already under contract to the team and will be Pic’s team-mate – unless one of the big teams makes him an offer, in which I believe he has a contract that would allow him to leave. I am not sure how one defines a top team (probably based on the results of the previous season) and he could leave (probably) if offered a drive with Lotus Renault GP. That might leave the slim possibility that Jerome d’Ambrosio could stay next year. The team likes him and I think he has been one of the quiet revelations of the year, as matching Glock when one had no experience is no mean achievement. Sadly, I think Renault is looking more and more towards a pairing of Vitaly Petrov/Romain Grosjean, and so Jerome will need to look elsewhere, and without money behind him it is going to be tough to get a job. He deserves better. Joe Saward
11/09/11 (GMM) Frenchman Charles Pic has now sealed a deal to make his formula one race debut with the Marussia (currently Virgin) team in 2012.
We reported two weeks ago that the 21-year-old GP2 driver, mentored by Olivier Panis and managed by the Lagardere group, was on pole position to replace Timo Glock's current teammate Jerome d'Ambrosio next year.
The authoritative French sports daily L'Equipe reports on Wednesday that the deal is done.
"In 2012, there will be at least one Frenchman on the grid," read the report. 10/31/11 (GMM) French hopeful Charles Pic has entered the race to replace Rubens Barrichello at Williams next year.
The 21-year-old GP2 driver's mentor Olivier Panis, working with the Lagardere group, admitted recently he is in talks with Team Lotus and Virgin about 2012.
French broadcaster TF1 announced on Sunday morning from India that Pic, who is understood to carry some millions in potential backing for an F1 employer, has now signed with Virgin for 2012.
His press officer denied the news, telling Provence: "At this point, no agreement has been formalized.
"Charles is still in contact with three teams -- Lotus, Virgin and Williams," spokeswoman Muriel Belgy told the regional daily. 10/27/11 (GMM) French GP2 driver Charles Pic's manager has confirmed talks about securing a place in formula one next year for the 21-year-old. Pic, fourth in this year's GP2 championship, has been linked recently with a Toro Rosso test in Abu Dhabi next month, and possibly a race seat with Virgin in 2012. His mentor and manager Olivier Panis, however, indicated that a role as a "third driver" for Pic is most likely.
"We have had discussions mainly with Team Lotus and Virgin Racing," said the former grand prix winner, working with Pic's management Lagardere. "There are two other possibilities that Charles will be in F1 next year, as a third driver, but nothing is signed yet and the discussions are continuing," Panis told the French daily L'Equipe.
He admitted that the first step for Pic is a seat in November's young driver test in Abu Dhabi.
"It is important he takes part in the rookie days in order to gain experience," said Panis. 10/24/11 (GMM) A Frenchman may have moved into pole position for a Virgin race seat in 2012.
Reporting that Jerome d'Ambrosio's seat is in danger, the Belgian newspaper De Morgen this month said Charles Pic, fourth in this year's GP2 series, has "more money" from his sponsors to spend next year.
Pic, 21, is also in talks with Toro Rosso about next month's Abu Dhabi young driver test, team boss Franz Tost revealed last week.
But it was in the column of French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet that Pic's links with 1996 Monaco winner Olivier Panis were revealed.
Pic is working with "his mentor" Panis through the Lagardere management outfit, and Moncet reveals that officials made a "very important working visit" to Suzuka recently.
"The Virgin team could soon announce the arrival of Charles Pic as a race driver for 2012," said Moncet in his Auto Plus blog.10/23/11 French driver Charles Pic is in talks with three Formula 1 teams regarding a race seat for 2012, and his management team claim that talks with Team Lotus are at an advanced stage.
Pic’s press officer Muriel Belgy told ToileF1, “We are actively in discussions with three Formula 1 teams for Charles to make his debut in F1 next year. These teams are Toro Rosso, Team Lotus and Marussia Virgin Racing. However, discussions are at a more advanced with Team Lotus.”
However, Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has already confirmed an unchanged driver line-up of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, for next year. Thus the option of Pic being drafted into the team would probably put, under performing, Italian veteran Trulli in the drop zone.
Pic is not yet aligned to a F1 team as are his French counterparts – Romain Grosjean (Renault), Jules Bianchi (Ferrari) and Jean-Eric Vergne (Red Bull) – but has formidable backing from French group Lagardère and GCA Trans. The latter has a fleet of some 7,000 trucks and boasts Total as a major client, thus business-to-business opportunities exist with Renault and Total. And Team Lotus just happens to be powered Renault. Watch this space