Christian Mansell headed the challenge for the Charouz Racing System team on his maiden outing in FIA Formula 3 in Hungary last weekend (29-31 July), battling against tricky conditions on a learning debut in the Formula 1 paddock. Fresh from securing an exciting two-race deal to race in the F1-supporting third-tier series with Charouz, the Australian teenager embarked on the first of those at the Hungaroring in Budapest - a circuit he most recently won at in Euroformula Open in a thrilling contest. The 17-year-old, backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management, headed into the first practice session on Friday morning with no experience in the Dallara F3 car, therefore focusing on building up his knowledge behind the wheel. A solid outing put him comfortably fastest of the team's cars, leading towards a sense of optimism for the qualifying session later that afternoon in sunny conditions. What followed was another hugely tight session, with the field covered by tiny margins and Mansell himself only a mere 1.3s off of the pole position time. It would still only be enough for 24th on the grid, unrepresentative of how close he was to the ultimate pace ahead of the weekend's two races. The first of the those came on Saturday morning, and in very different conditions as the heavens opened and left a saturated track for all the drivers to deal with. Through the spray, live on Sky Sports F1, Mansell battled the conditions and visibility issues to make it comfortably to the chequered flag on his debut, finishing two places higher in 22nd. The BRDC Rising Star and Motorsport UK Academy member, supported by Dexcom, Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27, NTI Australia and AMSL Diabetes Australia, turned his attentions to race two which he would start from 24th once more in equally difficult conditions. What followed was a highly unpredictable affair as the track conditions began to dry, with 24 laps for Mansell to look to gain as much ground as possible to end his rookie event in style. A solid start to the race moved him up the order to 22nd place, after which he chipped away at the cars ahead. Part of a group of rivals jostling for places, Mansell made up ground to climb up to as high as 17th and comfortably top of the Charouz drivers. The track conditions continued to change throughout the race though, and Mansell would be one that struggled for grip in the closing stages on wet tyres as he dropped to an unrepresentative 23rd by the chequered flag. Christian Mansell: “A huge thank you to the Charouz Racing System team for their support and the opportunity to join the Formula 3 grid for these two weekends. "We came here obviously without the luxury of experience which regular drivers have had all season, so to be still not far off the ultimate pace was encouraging for us. I was happy with our pace in qualifying, but the red flag was timed poorly for us and that was disappointing. "In the races, the conditions were very tricky to contend with, but overall I was happy with how we did across both days. In the full wet the car wasn’t on my side, and didn’t really come to me. But we still managed to move forward so in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t too bad at all as we climbed the field during Sunday's race. "I'm just trying to learn as much as possible with every lap. I'm now really looking forward to Spa, and we have that extra weekend of experience to use on our side.” Mansell will next enjoy his second guest outing for the Charouz Racing team at the popular Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium when FIA Formula 3 supports Formula 1 over the weekend of 26-28 August, a track he has already raced at successfully in GB3 and in Euroformula Open.
Image from Dutch Photo Agency.