Christian Mansell scored his first points of the 2023 FIA Formula 3 Championship season in front of a rapturous home crowd in Melbourne, Australia last weekend (1-2 April).
The 18-year-old Aussie from Newcastle, New South Wales, headed to more familiar surroundings for the second of 10 race meetings in his first full campaign in FIA F3, with two races run around the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne for the Campos Racing youngster.
Mansell, backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers and VISA Global Logistics, greeted home fans looking to meet their heroes in a busy build-up to the weekend on Thursday, before hitting track on Friday for Free Practice and Qualifying.
The BRDC star came mightily close once again to securing a first pole position of the season in a heavily interrupted qualifying outing, which featured two stoppages for incidents to rivals and a late dash for a strong grid position. Mansell moved up into the top 10 on his final effort with a mighty lap on hard tyres, but was agonisingly bumped to 13th place by just over a tenth of a second with only one second covering the top 12 cars, which were reversed for the Sprint race on Saturday.
A chaotic race followed, Mansell keeping his nose clean despite a trio of safety car periods that significantly limited racing action. Penalties applied afterwards played into the former GB3 race winner's hands, Mansell taking his first FIA F3 points for a ninth place finish.
Starting 13th once again for the longer Feature race, the Infinity Sports Management, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27 and AMSL Diabetes Australia-backed youngster made an exciting start to the 23-lap contest on Sunday morning in front of the Formula 1 crowds, moving ahead of Sebastien Montoya in a frenetic first lap.
Mansell continued and survived another two safety car interruptions before latching onto the rear of his Campos Racing team-mate to climb onto the fringes of the top-10 with a slipstreaming overtake on Jonny Edgar to move up to 11th. A shuffle ahead on the final lap, combined with post-race penalties applied to rivals around him, helped Mansell make up the crucial spot required to break into the top 10 and add another point to his tally.
Three points were Mansell's reward from the homecoming visit, the Australian next focusing on a visit to Imola for the third meeting of the FIA F3 Championship alongside F1 over the dates of 19-21 May.
Christian Mansell:"This was a weekend I was really excited for as an Australian, and the crowds certainly didn't disappoint. It has been an amazing experience and I'm delighted to have brought home two top-10 finishes and my first points for them.
"It was frustrating to miss out on that Sprint Race pole position for the second time in a row by such a small amount, especially here, but to fight hard and come back in what was a tough race to make progress in on Saturday with the safety car periods - I'm happy and the team did a great job all weekend.
"Sunday was a race with plenty of battles and there was a lot going on around us, so to almost match the result and get more points was a good end to the weekend. Thank you again to the fans, Campos Racing and all of my sponsors this weekend. We can now look to go one better in qualifying at Imola and mix it up front."
Image from Dutch Photo Agency.