A month ahead of official pre-season testing for 2014, Charles Pic has admitted his future remains far from certain.
It has been rumoured in recent days and weeks that, ahead of the new season, the Lagardere-backed Frenchman’s sponsorship haul might not be as strong as that of his 2013 teammate Giedo van der Garde.
At the same time, there have been rumours Caterham might be considering a new driver to replace 23-year-old Pic, such as the Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson.
And Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper reports that Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, who has been looking to return to the grid after losing his Sauber seat at the end of last year, was spotted at Caterham’s UK factory this week.
Pic admitted his future is not secure.
“Given the nature of the driver market at the end of the season,” he told France’s Auto Hebdo, “I knew that the decision would not be taken quickly.
“Small teams in particular wait for the decisions of their more competitive rivals,” added Pic.
“For me it would be logical to stay at Caterham, but you can never be sure about anything in formula one.
“The contract with Caterham is my first priority, but there are other options,” he revealed.
“Honestly, at the end of the season, we saw that the main problem was not the drivers, but the financial situation.”
Pic is surely referring to the fact that, while he struggled alongside Dutchman van der Garde in the closing stages of 2013, Caterham was already working hard on its all-new project for next year.
“The main problem was that we had to do the season with last year’s car,” he said, “and we were the only team in this situation.”
In an identical car, however, van der Garde had got the upper hand by the last few races.
“This was his debut season,” said Pic, “so it seems logical that he made progress.
“But prior to India, I was regularly in front of him, and with a significant advantage.
“In the last three races Giedo had more success than me, but that was because I had a lot of mechanical problems,” he argues.
Pic said he feels he performed well enough in 2013 to deserve to keep the seat, but there are other factors in play, and “mainly financial” ones.
“I’m optimistic,” he insisted, “because myself and the team need stability.”
See the current 2014 F1 drivers lineup