Charles Pic impressed in 2012 at Marussia and has taken the next step to Caterham as he progresses up the F1 ladder.
Last week Richard’s F1 spoke to Charles in an exclusive interview about his 2012 season and hopes for 2013. This week at Malaysia, Ben & Sam had the pleasure of once again speaking to Charles on assignment with our sister wesbite, talking about coping with the difficult conditions in Malaysia, why rain might be a benefit for the team as well as why he has changed the colour scheme on his helmet for this season.
RF1: Very different conditions here in Malaysia compared to the cooler conditions in Australia, how do you prepare for the conditions coming from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur?
Charles Pic: I think it’s quite important to arrive a bit early, so we fly direct from Australia on Monday night to prepare ourselves for the heat and humidity. After that there is nothing you can really do, you just have to be fit. You can’t work on fitness before this week though; you have to do it over the winter.
RF1: What are your thoughts on your race in Australia?
CP: For sure we aren’t in the position we want to be. I think at the moment we are four tenths slower than the Marussia, so for sure it’s not the place we want to be. We need to be able to work out the areas that we need to improve and then correct these things, and move forward.
RF1: Is it difficult coming from Marussia to Caterham where you expected to be in front of your former team, given the better resources available to you here at Caterham?
CP: Honestly I don’t think about these things, I had a great year last year with Marussia. It was my first year but now I am with Caterham and I am very happy to be with them, and I am very focussed on my job and very motivated to move forward with them. I have a lot of trust in the team and together I am sure we will progress through the year.
RF1: Given the Malaysian Grand Prix is the teams home race, how have you found the commitments and attention on you compared to other race weekends?
CP: It’s quite nice because I think that all the home races are a bit special. Of course you have more commitments which you have to look forward to, but home racing is definitely a special feeling. It’s great!
RF1: A lot of talk last weekend about the degradation of the new spec Pirelli tyres, did it surprise you the amount of degradation from them or was it around what you were expecting?
CP: Last weekend we were not happy with where we are but I think we optimised the car in race conditions to get between the Marussia’s and be in front of one of them. There was some tyre degradation, especially with the super softs, but honestly it’s not our main problem at the moment.
RF1: What are the main issues with the car at the moment and what areas will need to be addressed when the updates come in Barcelona?
CP: I think the main issue at the moment is the aero.
RF1: With the updates, do you feel as though that realistically the team can challenge for points when the European season begins?
CP: The first target which is more important is to progress through the year, so not only in Barcelona when we will be back in Europe but then race by race. So I think this is most important for this year is to progress through all the year.
RF1: Giedo mentioned the car handles well in the rain and that he was hopeful for a wet weekend are you hoping for rain this weekend so that you can help push the car forward until the updates come?
CP: If there is rain this weekend we will try to be on it and take profit of the situation of course, but I think it’s honestly from my view not what I want because I think that for the moment we are not happy with where we are so we need to learn and understand why and then move forward, so we also need running on the dry.
RF1: Has the reaction back home in France been positive since your move to Caterham?
CP: Honestly you would have to ask them! I could not answer this! I mean, what I can tell you is that I am very happy to be with Caterham and it’s a big opportunity for me to be closer with Renault. I’m very happy with this and I’m sure the French fans are very happy for me also.
RF1: Big time for France in Formula 1 with four drivers on the grid, were you disappointed that the French Grand Prix wasn’t handed the 20th slot on the calendar?
CP: I think it’s great that we have four French drivers this year, now the French GP is something else. For sure it would be great if we at one stage could get the French GP but I know that it is also complicated so we will have to wait and see.
RF1: We noticed you changed your helmet colours this year, was there a reason behind that?
CP: I only changed the one colour, the red one to the yellow, and I think you can see why!
We offer our sincerest thanks to the Caterham F1 Team for their assistance in making this interview possible.
This article was originally written for The Qualifying Lap. You can read the published version here