Charles Pic is set to graduate to Formula 1 with Marussia Virgin Racing next season, as he prepares for his first test with the team in Abu Dhabi this week. The Frenchman is understood to have agreed to terms with the team for a race deal in 2012, and if a final contract can be sorted, then an announcement confirming his step up to F1 could be made as soon as the season-closing Brazilian GP.
Speculation that Pic has finalized a deal with the team, which will be renamed Marussia next season, heightened on Monday when he canceled a planned test with Team Lotus in Abu Dhabi this week. Pic is a successful karter, who has won races in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2. This year, he finished fourth overall in the GP2 standings.
If his move is confirmed, it will mean that Virgin's current driver Jerome d'Ambrosio will need to look for another drive for next season although very few seats are now remaining. Lotus Renault GP team principal Eric Boullier, who is head of the Gravity driver management company that looks after d'Ambrosio, admitted last weekend in Abu Dhabi that he was currently sorting out the Belgian's F1 future. When asked if he was a contender for a race seat at his team, Boullier said: "He could be, but I am trying to build another plan for him. He is on the list, though. He is part of the family."
Pic is due to drive the Virgin car on Tuesday afternoon and for a full day on Wednesday.