Marussia Virgin Racing's new recruit Charles Pic has admitted he faces a tough challenge to get himself prepared for Formula 1 before the first race of 2012, with just six days of testing scheduled for him prior to his grand prix debut.
The Frenchman had his first outing in an F1 car during the recent young driver test at Abu Dhabi and, with only 12 days of running available for his team before Melbourne, he will have to split the time equally with teammate Timo Glock. But while he says he is ready to make the most of simulator work to help him get up to speed, he knows he faces a difficult winter to try and get in the best shape possible.
"I am not worried about it, but I need to be aware of it," said Pic, during a press conference in Paris on Tuesday, about having just six days of running before Melbourne. "It means I need to set up a timetable to make sure I can learn things in a different way. Six days of testing is a very short period of time, and not quite enough to be ready for Melbourne. So we need to set up a good program so that the two months in winter can be used for the best."
He added: "I am not afraid of anything, but I am fully aware it is going to be tough, and I will have to work hard. But I am not concerned – I want to do the best job possible."
Pic will travel to Marussia's factory on Wednesday, and is set to get his first simulator run later this week. The GP2 front runner will also be helped in his task of learning about the challenges of F1 by former grand prix race winner Olivier Panis, who is acting as an adviser for the youngster.
Panis appeared at the Paris press conference and reckoned he would be able to give the rookie some valuable advice.
"Of course you need time," said Panis, who famously won the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix. "F1 is not easy. It is complicated and seven days for tests is not normal, but the partnership with McLaren and the simulator will help him a great deal, so that will have to be put to good use before the first race.
"He was outstanding in how he adapted in Abu Dhabi, and we are lucky to have him here. I won't need to teach him to drive because he does it very well, but I will help with his approach and what F1 requires – with the media, promotion, and being a member of the team.
"My job will be to help him, maybe not give him comfort but advise about F1, the politics of it, and make sure he has the right mind set and get better and better all the time."
Speaking about the assistance from Panis, Pic said: "He gives me a lot. He has a long experience in F1, a long career, so I am fortunate to have him nearby. He will help me develop and progress further and, of course, some of the errors I might make will be avoided. He will help me get on board and start this new adventure."
Pic also believes that his task of getting up to speed in F1 will be helped by working alongside the experienced Timo Glock.
"I think that is a real opportunity," he explained. "It is an opportunity to have him as a teammate, because he is a great driver with a great deal of experience. It gives me an opportunity to learn things at the beginning of the year, and I will try and learn as much as I can so I can move ahead as quickly as possible early in the season."