Chatting with Charles Pic: 2023 Season Preview
12 months ago, DAMS was taken over by ex-F1 driver Charles Pic. Although he doesn’t run the team directly on a day-to-day basis, Charles’ influence has been felt throughout the squad over the past year. Ahead of the 2023 season, Charles reflects on his time at DAMS so far and looks ahead to what could be in store for the upcoming campaign and beyond.
Can you sum up your first year with DAMS?
It was a good year. We started well, but there was an initial period of adaptation as I got to know the team members I was not already familiar with. We made progress race-after-race with Ayumu who got stronger and stronger as the season went on. Overall, we progressed well throughout the year.
What has been the highlight of your first year with DAMS?
The two pole positions and the two victories. The team and I are French, so winning in Le Castellet was particularly special. It was also the first win of the year, so this moment sticks out for me. The pole positions in Budapest and Abu Dhabi, as well as the victory there, were also amazing and intense.
Were you surprised by anything in 2022?
Not really. Ayumu’s performance might have been a shock for outsiders, but within the team we knew how good he was. We immediately felt his potential and knew very early in the season how much talent he had, so we were prepared for his strong performances in the second half of the season. We wouldn’t have put him in the car if we didn’t think it was the right choice, we were confident he would piece it all together.
What was the biggest challenge in 2022?
I don’t think there was one specific challenge that caused us issues. But in order to win, the difficulty is to piece everything together, on the driver side, the car side and the team side. There wasn’t a single factor, but the challenge was to analyse all the small areas where we could find performance over a race weekend and implement the solutions to become more competitive.
Do you think DAMS had a successful year on-track in 2022?
I think we had a good season. Obviously, we’re not completely satisfied with what was achieved, but the team is ambitious and the focus is on improving even more in 2023.
What is the target for DAMS in 2023?
The aim is to continue to progress and do better than in 2022. Looking back on last season, we started the year slowly and we weren’t able to compete for the top five or podiums, but as the team improved in the middle of the season, we started fighting more towards the front and by the end of the campaign we were regularly challenging for pole positions and victories.
It’s one thing to take pole and victory at the same event, but it’s even more difficult to keep that level of performance throughout the season. The objective for 2023 will be to have this consistency at every meeting and be able to always fight at the front.
Is DAMS capable of winning the teams’ title in 2023?
I think we have the capability, but we are not the only ones. There are three or four teams that can win the championship. The level of competition will be very high, so we will see how many points we have at the end of the season.
Do you think Ayumu can fight for the title in 2023?
Ayumu has the talent to do it and he proved it in 2022. But there are also four or five drivers who can fight for the championship this season. All the top teams in 2023 have someone who has the potential to compete for the title. We will approach the year race-by-race and aim to extract the maximum performance so that we’re consistently up there.
What are your targets for Arthur in 2023?
The objective for Arthur is for him to progress as quickly as possible so he can compete at the front. He has the ability but there is always an adaptation phase at the start of anyone’s F2 career, where he will discover the differences between F3 and F2 cars. Arthur and the team will work together to fast-track this learning period, a bit like we did with Ayumu in 2022.
How will Arthur and Ayumu work together in 2023?
Both drivers are clever, they already began working together at the end of season test in Abu Dhabi and they will continue at the factory to support the team’s preparation for the first round in Bahrain. It’s a huge benefit for Arthur to work with Ayumu this season. His experience will be extremely valuable and Arthur will be able to use Ayumu as a reference, helping him quickly acclimatise to Formula 2.
What do you see DAMS becoming in the long-term future?
When you compete in motorsport, you do it to win. The main objective is always to win, whether it be with the drivers or the team and that’s why we work so hard throughout the year. Our ambition in Formula 2 is to help these drivers become the finished product. We want to help them achieve their dream of reaching F1, which is the goal of every team at this level.
Image: Dutch Photo Agency