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  • Dan Mason

Christian Mansell Picks Up Important Points In Home FIA F3 Round In Australia

Christian Mansell headed home to pick up more crucial points in the 2024 FIA Formula 3 Championship's second meeting at Melbourne, Australia, in front of the F1 crowds this past weekend (22-24 March).

The young Australian from Newcastle, New South Wales, entered the third and fourth races of the latest FIA F3 season holding a strong third in the Drivers' Championship after a podium in Bahrain - a result he hoped to repeat at his home event in Albert Park, Melbourne.

In front of the waves of passionate Aussie supporters, Mansell, backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, Sargeant Transport and Ultimate Driving Tours, first took to the fast and flowing circuit on Friday morning and put his car up in the top eight of the timesheets in free practice.

The ART Grand Prix driver was again right in contention for a strong result when the critical qualifying session came around later that afternoon, sticking his car inside the top 10 with an effort that was just half a second from the top three in a competitive timed contest. Saturday would be the first opportunity to score points of the weekend with the 20-lap sprint race, which turned out to be an intense affair with the top 12 cars from qualifying reversed to make up the grid - meaning Mansell would line up in third place in front of his home supporters.

Holding his starting position around the first lap with some strong defending, he soon closed back in on the tail of the lead duo which was headed by his ART team-mate Laurens Van Hoepen. The latter was instantly under heavy pressure from Martin Stenshorne with DRS bringing Mansell almost alongside the pair heading out of the fast chicane towards the last sector of the lap.

Sensing his chance with the lead within sight, the Rush Performance, Infinity Sports Management, IOR Petroleum, AMSL Diabetes Australia and NTI-backed driver attempted to cut inside Stenshorne and survived slight contact as his rival shut the door in his own attack of leader Van Hoepen, but it would be as close to the lead as Mansell would get as car troubles from a close call in the opening laps negatively affected the handling of his car.

The Australian was briefly powerless to defend as a result, falling out of the top 10 in the DRS train. He did however work around his problem later in the race, securing a top-10 finish and yet more crucial points ahead of Sunday's 23-lap feature race.

Making a strong start the following day from 10th on the grid, Mansell shot up briefly into eighth as drivers fought over space into the first three corners. Again, DRS would prove crucial but tyre degradation would be even more of a decisive factor. as the Australian managed his rubber kindly to fight towards the end of the race.

From 11th, he soon caught and passed Arvin Lindblad to confirm another 10th place finish, closing right up to a multi-car battle for eighth as he narrowly missed out by mere tenths of a second with a faster car in the final stages.

Christian Mansell: "It's always exciting to come back home and see all the Aussie support here and their passion for motorsport. It's really appreciated and I hope we put on a good show this weekend.

"Overall I feel that we had good pace again, and to be in a strong position for the sprint race gave us hope for another trophy but, ultimately it wasn't to be. We were right in the fight but we got a bit of contact and that put us on the back foot. It's not the end of the world but definitely we wanted more out of that day.

"We kept pushing and on Sunday we had some good battles while trying to keep the tyres going for the whole race which was tough. Maybe with a couple more laps we could have moved further forward which would have been nice, but it's more points which matters for the championship."

Mansell now has a lengthy break of almost two months before getting back to action as the next FIA Formula 3 Championship rounds take place at Imola over the weekend of 17-19 May.

Image from Dutch Photo Agency.


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