Christian Mansell Celebrates Superb Maiden FIA F3 Podium At Silverstone
Christian Mansell enjoyed a weekend to remember in the FIA Formula 3 Championship at Silverstone last weekend (07-09 July), converting his best-ever qualifying result into a sensational maiden podium finish.
Only a week prior to the visit to the UK, the 18-year-old Australian from Newcastle had just bagged his highest finish in the Formula 1 support series with a top-seven showing in Austria. He then headed back to familiar ground, as FIA F3 returned to Silverstone to support the British Grand Prix.
Campos Racing's Mansell, backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers and VISA Global Logistics, would be optimistic for the weekend having raced at the historic Northampton circuit in the likes of British F4 and the GB3 Championship in recent years, and his pace in Free Practice hinted at a competitive weekend.
Come qualifying on Friday afternoon, it would again be a closely-fought contest with the times chopping and changing over two crucial runs on fresh tyres in dry conditions. Mansell would initially put himself in the mix for the top 12 positions that would be reversed for the Sprint Race, but on his final run he showed his true pace with a blistering lap good enough for fourth overall - only 0.3s from pole position.
With the reverse grid applied for Saturday's Sprint Race the following day, Mansell lined up ninth. An additional curveball was thrown in however as rain fell while the cars sat on the grid, the start subsequently delayed to allow for teams to reconsider their choice of compound. Like many, Mansell and his Campos Racing crew opted to remain on slicks and a feisty first lap put him in battle with team-mate Pepe Marti after attacking Gabriel Bortoleto in the opening corners - settling into 10th place before the race was soon neutralised behind the safety car as rain bucketed down.
The youngster was then one of just 10 drivers bravely opting to stay out on slick tyres for the restart, and ultimately that proved to be a handsome decision as the track quickly dried out in the closing laps. From seventh, his first lap was critical, evading a collision between Sebastian Montoya and Taylor Barnard ahead and then quickly slicing inside Leonardo Fornaroli at Turn One, then diving inside Gabriele Mini at Village to climb up to third place.
His chance for a top three finish was now well within his sights, and Mansell would seal the deal with a brilliant defence from Caio Collet on the final lap to grab his maiden FIA F3 podium in front of the huge British GP crowds.
The Infinity Sports Management, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27 and AMSL Diabetes Australia-backed man hoped to double up the following day as he started the Feature Race from fourth on the grid in drier conditions. A hectic start pitted Mansell against championship leader Bortoleto on the opening lap, getting the better of the Brazilian as he finished the lap fifth behind Paul Aron
After a safety car interruption, Mansell settled into a close train of six cars battling over the race lead, but more rain would later make for a tense finish as the rookie showed his wet weather skills to hang onto fifth place on slick tyres to add yet more healthy points to his growing tally.
Mansell will be back in FIA F3 action in just two weeks as he heads to Budapest in Hungary for the latest two races over the weekend of 21-23 July.
Christian Mansell:"An amazing weekend. Campos and myself; we've worked very hard to put ourselves into this position we're in at the moment and it's paying off.
"I've been catching Pepe and I've definitely made steps in myself, but overall we've been building as a team and the results this weekend have shown what we can do. It was an awesome feeling to get those results, not just in the races but in Qualifying too.
"To get onto the podium in my rookie season is a great result, so now we can kick on and keep being a regular part of these battles up the field. We got the calls right in the rain throughout and that was a key part of the Sprint, and it was a very emotional podium for all of us after the events of Spa the previous week. Now we look to Hungary which I've raced at in Euroformula Open, so hopefully we can be up the front fighting for silverware again."
Images from Dutch Photo Agency.