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Christian Mansell Battles British Elements For Crucial Silverstone Top-Five

Australian rising star Christian Mansell added another top-five finish to his tally in the most recent FIA Formula 3 Championship meeting at Silverstone last weekend (06/07 July), as the British weather made for a highly unpredictable pair of races.


The youngster from Newcastle, New South Wales, arrived for round seven at the Home of British Motorsport coming off the back of one of his best FIA F3 weekends to date, adding a fourth podium finish of his season in Austria with the ART Grand Prix squad to move into the top five in the Drivers' Championship.


Concluding a run of three race weekends in succession, Mansell returned to the scene of his first ever F3 podium 12 months prior hopeful of more silverware at the Northamptonshire circuit, in front of the British Grand Prix crowds. His pace in free practice showed that it was well within reach, although the weather heading into qualifying on Friday proved very difficult to predict.


With backing from AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, Sargeant Transport and Ultimate Driving Tours, Mansell looked to put himself near the front of the grid and was well within the top 10 after initial runs in dry conditions. Rain soon intervened, but a late flurry of laps on a drier track helped Mansell recover to seventh place and remain in the mix for the weekend's double-header.


The following morning, torrential rain postponed the Sprint Race until later that afternoon. Weather conditions remained uncertain, but ultimately a dry contest unfolded for the field. Mansell dived into fourth place from a starting spot of fifth on the grid, and was inches away from moving into the top three as Matias Zagazeta shut the door on the #23 car at Stowe corner.


The battle allowed Callum Voisin through into fourth place, putting Mansell back into a fight with Alex Dunne who briefly made the move on Hangar Straight, only for the Aussie to brilliantly re-take the place and hold on to take the chequered flag in fifth position.

The Rush Performance, Infinity Sports Management, IOR Petroleum, AMSL Diabetes Australia and NTI-backed star looked ahead to Sunday where he started from seventh, but he would be among the majority that switched to wet tyres before the formation lap.


The weather continued to toss and turn between wet and dry conditions throughout a crazy race. Mansell remained on wets for the entirety of the race, only stopping to replace the worn original set after several safety car interruptions - the latest coming on lap nine.


The former GB3 Championship race-winner charged through from 25th into the top 10 in only a handful of laps when the rain returned on the safety car restart, putting him into a big fight with team-mate Laurens Van Hoepen.


The latter would ease Mansell out slightly wide heading through the Village left-hander late on. Although he lost ground, Mansell continued to give chase and came home 13th after a wild and unpredictable race, ensuring he remains in contention for a top-five championship position.


Christian Mansell: "It was a wild weekend for us to have to contend with. The weather made it tough to predict anything really, which maybe distracted us of what our true pace could have been at this circuit which I've always enjoyed.


"Qualifying was not clean for any of us with the rain mixing it up halfway through, but we dug deep and put in a lap to keep us in the mix which was key.


"Race one was lively at the start, and we came close to getting third spot. We just didn't quite have the pace in those early stages, but late on the car was really coming alive so with more laps we could have found some extra places.


"Sunday was just so hard to predict. At times, it was just a case of sticking to what you believed before we got going, and that seemed to level itself out late on. It dried out unfortunately right at the end which stopped our progress, but it was about survival!"


Mansell is next in action in two weeks' time, when the FIA F3 Championship heads to the Hungaroring in Budapest over the weekend of 19-21 July.

Images from Dutch Photo Agency.

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