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Christian Mansell Celebrates Maiden FIA F3 Pole And Podium In Barcelona

Australia's Christian Mansell continued his brilliant form in the 2024 FIA Formula 3 Championship, grabbing his first pole position and adding a third podium finish of the season in Barcelona last weekend (22/23 June).

The rising star arrived in Spain coming off the back of one of his most impressive performances to date in the Formula 1 support category, starting from the front row and finishing on the podium on the streets of Monaco.

With many testing miles clocked up over pre-season at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, Mansell - from Newcastle, New South Wales - hoped that experience would pay dividends in his bid to add to that podium tally with ART Grand Prix.

With backing from AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, Sargeant Transport and Ultimate Driving Tours, Mansell spent Friday morning's free practice working hard on set-up ahead of the afternoon's crucial qualifying session to decide the grid for the weekend's two races.

Under sunny Spanish skies, what followed was his best showing of the campaign. A rapid lap late in the session was clocked at 1m28.463s - enough to go 0.03s quicker than his closest rival and catapult himself onto pole position for the first time in his FIA F3 career.

Before starting the Feature Race from the front on Sunday, Mansell's first race action of the weekend would be the 21-lap Sprint Race on Saturday morning, where he started 12th based on the partially-reversed grid system.

A hectic contest followed, Mansell recovering back to his starting spot after a titanic scrap with ART GP team-mate Nikola Tsolov, sweeping around the Bulgarian and three fellow rivals in a four-wide attack under braking for the first corner on lap two.

Despite being bumped back two spots on the restart, Mansell re-passed fellow ex-GB3 racer Luke Browning utilising DRS on the main straight, before evading dramas ahead of him to climb to 11th spot by the chequered flag.

The Rush Performance, Infinity Sports Management, IOR Petroleum, AMSL Diabetes Australia and NTI-backed star looked ahead to Sunday where he started from pole position, and a perfect getaway as the lights went out put him into an early lead.

For several laps, Mansell held his advantage, until lap five when he was left powerless into the first corner to defend from Arvid Lindblad, who had the advantage of DRS and the slipstream, to grab the lead. Despite the threat of rain in the closing laps, Mansell kept Browning at bay to finish a superb second - his third podium of the '24 campaign.

Christian Mansell: "I'm very happy with that weekend. We couldn't quite hang on to fight for the win on Sunday, but again we've shown people that we're real contenders now.

"The car was so hooked up when we needed it to be in qualifying, and that meant we could get the job done in clean air when it mattered which was a great feeling for us.

"The racing all weekend has been good. Some hard battling in the Sprint with a lot of guys but it showed we were moving forward, and then to finish on the podium the day after was important for the championship.

"A big thank you as ever to the ART GP team, who have been getting us closer and closer to our end goal. We'll keep pushing and try and get that one step higher in Austria and Silverstone which have been good circuits to me in recent years."

The results in Spain mean Mansell climbs two spots higher to seventh place in the Drivers' Championship, heading straight to Austria's Spielberg circuit this weekend (29-30 June).

Images from Dutch Photo Agency.


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