Starting out in Karting, Charles enjoyed a certain amount of success in the French and Italian championships in 2004 and 2005, finishing third overall in the 2005 Junior ICA European Championship before switching to single-seaters for 2006.
Beginning with the 2006 French Formula Campus Championship, in which he finished third overall, the youngster contested Formula Renault 2.0 in 2007, finishing fourth in the French series and third in the Eurocup.
In 2008 he moved up to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, finishing sixth overall, remaining in the series for 2009 (he finished third) and also contesting the GP2 Asia Championship, in which he finished fifth.
Having contested the GP2 Asia series with Arden, he remained with the Christian Horner owned outfit for 2010. However, after a disappointing season in which he finished tenth overall with just one win, one pole position and two podiums, he moved to Barwa Addax for both 2011 GP2 series.
Although failing to score a single point in the four-event GP2 Asia championship, Charles restored some pride by finishing fourth in the main series, albeit 37 points down on championship winner Romain Grosjean.
In Spain, he led home teammate Giedo Van der Garde for an Addax one-two, and took his second victory of the season in the Monaco sprint race - a result which moved him up to third place in the drivers' championship.
He took pole position for the round at Valencia, briefly moving into the championship lead, but retirement from both races saw him drop back down the standings. Then again, but for a late drive-though penalty, which essentially saw him disqualified, in the Nurburgring sprint race, Charles might have finished runner-up in the title race, what with Bianchi scoring just one more point and Filippi two.
While it didn't come as too much of a surprise to see Charles invited to take part in the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test in November, it raised a few eyebrows when the youngster was confirmed as Timo Glock's teammate at Marussia for 2012 just hours after the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Having achieved little of note, one has to wonder why exactly Marussia opted for the Frenchman. However, Jerome d'Ambrosio's admission that to secure a seat for 2012 would need to see the Belgian bring "around ten million dollars" to the table possibly gave a clue.
Having failed the mandatory crash test, the Russian team was forced to use its 2011 car in pre-season testing, the 2012 (MR01) not appearing until March 5 - eleven days before the start of the Australian Grand Prix weekend - when it was unveiled at Silverstone.
The penultimate car to be launched - HRT was last - originally it was to be the only car on the grid that would not use KERS until the Spanish outfit opted to follow suit.
The start of the season didn't augur well, Charles and his teammate managing to out-pace the HRTs but still way short of the Caterhams. On the other hand, reliability was good, though in Bahrain Charles began a run of three races in which he failed to finish courtesy of a string of failures (hydraulics, driveshaft and electrics)..
Initially almost a second off Glock's pace in qualifying, Charles gradually improved and by mid-season was out-qualifying his experienced teammate indeed, by season end the score was a respectable 7-13.
At Spa, the team's fiftieth Grand Prix, Charles was fastest in FP2 with teammate Glock sixth, though it should be pointed out that only ten drivers actually set a time in the heavy rain.
On the Friday of the Brazil weekend, Charles revealed that he was heading to Caterham for 2013, ironically, in the race the Frenchman was to finish just behind Vitaly Petrov whose eleventh place allowed the Anglo-Malaysia team to leapfrog Marussia and thereby take a slice of the official prize pot.
While the season with Marussia had hardly provided enough evidence to come to a conclusion regarding Charles, Caterham obviously felt he had some potential.
Despite Tony Fernandes assurances at the launch of the CT03, not only did Caterham fail to make any progress in 2013 it actually slipped back. Indeed, the most excitement the car caused in 2013 was during pre-season testing when Lotus technical director James Allison claimed that its exhaust outlet contravened Article 5.8.4 of the technical regulations, which prohibit the use of bodywork within a defined area with respect to the exhaust outlet. The FIA subsequently agreed and deemed the system to be illegal.
Climbing out of the car following FP1 in Bahrain, test and reserve driver Heikki Kovalainen, who had been hurriedly brought back in to the team at the expense of Ma Qinghua, stated that the CT03 was essentially the previous year's car with nothing done to it. Ahead of the next race (Spain) the team introduced a major upgrade of the car but to little effect.
Having finished 16th in Melbourne and 14th in Malaysia, where he narrowly lost out to Jules Bianchi, a result that was to see Marussia eventually claim tenth in the 2013 standings, Charles gave another strong performance in Bahrain where he finished ahead of Gutierrez' Sauber.
Once the team brought a major upgrade on board for Spain, Charles' pace soon improved, as did his performances, but it was not enough to earn that first point or overhaul Marussia in the standings.
To put it simply, the team's best qualifying performance was in Belgium where Van der Garde, having got through to Q2, put the car 14th on the grid - a best ever for the team - while the best race result was the brace of 14ths from Charles in Malaysia and Korea and another for Van der Garde in Hungary.
Fact is, despite what some might say about Charles - and his teammate's - ability or their right to be in F1, even Sebastian Vettel would have been hard pushed to extract much more from the CT03.
On the evening of 20 January 2014, in an interview with Infosport+, Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul revealed that Charles would not be retained for 2014. Next day the team confirmed an all-new line-up, its third in as many seasons.