Midseason Report: Grading Caterham's Charles Pic

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Midseason Report: Grading Caterham's Charles Pic
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Pic has proven much more consistent in 2013

Fellow Bleacher Report featured columnist Scott Mitchell wrote an extremely good article on drivers who may not feature in Formula One next season.

Amongst those drivers were Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic. While I graded van der Garde’s performance relative to those of his Caterham teammate, I’m going for a change of tack here and grade Pic on what he did in 2012.

Pic is the more experienced man, having driven for Marussia in 2012. And with precious little between the two teams, it seems a fair benchmark. So how much has he learned from last year and has he done enough so far? Let’s look at the evidence.

 

Australia: 2012 Q21 / 15th 2013 Q22 / 16th

Not too much of a difference then between last year and this to start with apart from the fact that Pic finished the race and finished in front of Marussia’s Max Chilton and van der Garde. In 2012, although classified 15th, he pulled into the pits five laps before the end with failing oil pressure.

Verdict: Nothing to judge on these results

 

Malaysia: 2012 Q21 / 20th 2013 Q 20 / 14th

An improvement on last season then, with Pic again proving the best of the tail-enders. In 2012 Pic was hampered by a clutch problem and had his first experience of extreme-wet tyres. And this year Pic was involved in an incident with Jean-Eric Vergne, losing his front wing when Vergne was released right into his path. Not really his fault, and he may have done even better without it.

Verdict: A slight improvement

 

China: 2012 Q22 / 20th 2013 Q20 / 16th

Pic stayed with experienced teammate Timo Glock throughout his debut Chinese GP en route to finishing the race, and this year he was even stronger, as he highlighted in his team’s post-race press release.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Pic enjoyed a successful outing in China

For me that was a good race, almost as good as we could have hoped for with our current performance levels and run to a good race strategy. The car felt good right from the start - the setup we went for worked well and I had a decent start on the soft tyres and came in just as they were starting to degrade heavily, came out ahead of Bianchi and for two thirds of the race I was pretty comfortably holding 15th place. Unfortunately on my third stop I came out in 16th and didn't quite have enough pace to fight so I finished in 16th

Verdict: Certainly learned from and improved on 2012 on a tricky circuit

 

Bahrain: 2012 Q19 / Retired 2013 Q18 / 17th

Was running well last year until an air valve failure ended his race, and this year Pic declared his result as the best of the season in his team's press release despite finishing a place lower than in China, and he was even holding Adrian Sutil at bay for a while.

That's our best race of the year so far and one the whole team should be pleased with. I quickly passed both the Marussia cars after starting on the medium tyres which held up for the first stint pretty well, allowing me to pit for the first time on lap 11. By that point the car felt good, well balanced and I was pulling away from the cars behind without any issues. We stayed on the hard tyres for the second stint and again the deg levels were good. I passed Gutierrez and was running comfortably in 16th until Sutil got past about two thirds of the way through the race.

Verdict: Another improvement, showing he is learning fast.

 

Spain: 2012 Q20 / Retired 2013 Q22 / 17th

Yet another solid improvement. Despite qualifying dead last, Pic made good ground from the start and he was actually catching the Williams of Valtteri Bottas by the end of the race as highlighted in his team's press release.

I'm really happy with today's performance. Finishing 17th doesn't really tell the whole story as we ended the race right behind one of the Williams cars which shows that we've made some good progress this weekend. The blue flags didn't help as without them I'd have had a much better chance of overtaking him, but it was still good that I could attack him in the last few laps. The car felt great for the whole race, particularly after my third stop when we went for a 25 lap final stint on the hard tyres and I was able to manage the degradation levels well which meant I could push right to the flag.

Verdict: Another good step forward.

 

Monaco: 2012 Q21 / Retired 2013 Q18 / Retired

Monaco saw a rare retirement for Pic

Not much to judge Pic on here apart from his improved qualifying performance, although teammate van der Garde was 15th on the grid. An electrical failure did for him in 2012, while a gearbox problem ended his race just seven laps in this year.

Verdict: A better qualifying performance with greater experience of the circuit.

 

Canada: 2012 Q23 / 20th 2013 Q18 / 18th

Pic expressed himself happy to finish the race on his first outing in 2012, and he improved further this year, passing the Marussia of Max Chilton with 10 laps or so remaining.

Verdict: As with Monaco learned from 2012 and enjoyed another incident free race.

 

Britain: 2012 Q24 / 19th 2013 Q18 / 15th

Without doubt this was Pic’s best performance of the year to date, as he finished ahead of both Marussias and his teammate, and not far behind Jenson Button’s McLaren and the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez.

In his team's press release, Pic said.

For me this has been a good weekend, one where we've started to get a bit back to the performance levels we saw in Bahrain and Spain. The pitstops were good, we ran to a strategy that gave me a chance to fight the Williams cars until the flag and we have a lot more information about the updates we brought here

 

Germany: 2012 Q20 / 20th 2013 Q22 / 17th

Despite starting from the back of the grid due to a gearbox change, Pic made good early inroads passing Max Chilton, and, despite having to box on lap 35 with a slow puncture that put him last, he fought back to pass both Chilton and van der Garde.

Verdict: Quickly proving himself as the stand out driver in the battle of Caterham vs. Marussia

 

Hungary: 2012 Q21 / 20th 2013 Q19 / 15th

Finished ahead of Timo Glock in 2012 and again bettered both Caterhams this time around, although he finished just behind his teammate. Another solid race and yet again stayed out of trouble.

 

Charles' Midseason Marks:

Who has the better chance of retaining their seat for 2013?

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Temperament: 8/10

Qualifying: 7/10

Race craft: 7/10

Final verdict: Judging on this year’s performances to date, I expect Pic’s performances to keep on improving, and he looks in a stronger position to hold onto his race seat than his teammate.

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