In the end, Charles Pic's Caterham stay lasted just a single season as the Leafield outfit initiated a clear-out of their driver line-up for 2014 after slipping behind Marussia to the foot of the Constructors' Championship.
After faring respectably well alongside the experienced Timo Glock in his debut F1 season at Marussia, Caterham picked up the young Frenchman, who brought useful financial backing with him to the team, from their rivals in what at the time was described as a "multi-year" deal. However, despite Pic generally having the upper hand over Giedo van der Garde, the gamble on an inexperienced pairing simply didn't work out for Tony Fernandes and company and both drivers were let go on the eve of winter testing.
In keeping with both his diminutive stature and quietly-spoken nature, Pic struggled to make a name for himself in his two years of F1, despite arriving at the top level in 2012 on back of some good performances in the GP2 Series and the previous year's Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi.
Born in Montelimar, France, he started his motorsport career in karting in 2002 before stepping up to single seaters in 2006 to drive in the Formula Renault Campus category.
After stints in the Championnat de France Formula Renault 2.0 and the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Pic signed to drive in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2008 and finished sixth overall with victories at Circuit de Monaco and at Le Mans. He also spent 2009 in the series, securing third place in the standings courtesy of wins at Silverstone and the Nurburgring.
Pic moved onto the GP2 Asia Series for the 2009-10 season before progressing to main series in 2010 with Arden International. He announced himself by winning at Circuit de Catalunya in the season-opener, but that was as good as it got and he finished tenth in the standings with 28 points.
A move to Barwa Addax Team in 2011 saw him claim his second main series win at Catalunya, while he also won the Monaco sprint race. Pic finished the season fourth in the standings with 52 points and earned a Young Driver Test role with the then Virgin Racing team in Abu Dhabi.
Team boss John Booth clearly liked what he saw and he was confirmed as Glock's third rookie partner in as many years for 2012. Although a failed crash test on Marussia's 2012 car in the early weeks of pre-season meant Pic wasn't able to take part in any of the official tests, he did get some mileage under his belt during some promotional runs at Silverstone and performed credibly on his Melbourne debut, outqualifying the two HRTs and being classified 15th in the race after an oil problem struck.
A succession of technical DNFs in the early months of the campaign clouded his race results but Pic outqualified Glock for the first time in Bahrain and then Spain, and then beat him on the road on Sunday in Germany and Hungary.
Come the season finale in Brazil and it was the Frenchman who nearly secured tenth place for Marussia in the Constructors' Championship at the expense of the team he just days before had announced he was joining for 2013, only for Caterham's Vitaly Petrov to pass him late on.
It was roles reversed in 2014 as Caterham, with Pic now in situ, chased Marussia in the standings all season after their long-time backmarker rivals stole a march in the year's early rounds. However, their pursuit proved in vain with Pic's pair of 14th-place finishes not proving enough to wrestle tenth place back for his new employer. Indeed, on a personal level, the Frenchman was twice overshadowed by the rookie, albeit older, van der Garde when changeable qualifying conditions opened the door to Q2.
Now approaching his mid-20s, Pic still has time on his side to get a second chance at motorsport's top table but 2014 at least looks likely to be all about career reinvention away from the glare of F1.
- Lotus F1 Team
- DOB: 15/02/1990
- Nationality: France
- Debut: 2012 (Australia)
- Car Number: 25
- Races: 39
Pos Driver Nationality Team Pts 1 Hamilton Mercedes 291.0 2 Rosberg Mercedes 274.0 3 Ricciardo Red Bull 199.0 4 Bottas Williams 145.0 5 Vettel Red Bull 143.0 6 Alonso Ferrari 141.0 7 Button McLaren 94.0 8 Hulkenberg Force India 76.0 9 Massa Williams 71.0 10 Magnussen McLaren 49.0 11 Perez Force India 47.0 12 Raikkonen Ferrari 47.0 13 Vergne Toro Rosso 21.0 14 Grosjean Lotus 8.0 15 Kvyat Toro Rosso 8.0 16 Bianchi Marussia 2.0 17 Sutil Sauber 0.0 18 Ericsson Caterham 0.0 19 Maldonado Lotus 0.0 20 Gutierrez Sauber 0.0 21 Chilton Marussia 0.0 22 Kobayashi Caterham 0.0 23 Lotterer Caterham 0.0