Australian single-seater star Christian Mansell returned to Euroformula Open and secured another top-five finish on just his third weekend in the championship last weekend (23/24 October) during the season finale at Barcelona in Spain.
Fresh from securing a superb third place in the final GB3 Championship standings a week prior at Donington Park, the 16-year-old from Newcastle, New South Wales, returned to Euroformula Open machinery for the third time in 2021 after impressing in outings at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.
Mansell, backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management, would again partner with the Motopark team with whom he claimed a maiden podium finish with in the European single-seater series at Monza.
His pace out of the blocks in private testing during the week was once again very encouraging in the Spanish heat as he lit up the timing screens at the Formula 1 circuit in Catalunya with the quickest lap of the day.
Mansell's pace was again apparent during the crucial 25-minute qualifying session on Saturday morning. Jumping to the head of the times in the opening stages, a late flurry of quick times bunched the field significantly. Mansell was ultimately shuffled back from a comfortable front row slot to eighth by the chequered flag, with the top 10 covered by just half a second.
The double GB3 Championship race winner turned his attentions to the opening race of the triple-header looking to improve, but a tough opening lap in the pack put him into recovery mode down in 12th spot early on. His true speed shone through with top-four pace as he evaded a spinning car and traded places three times with GB3 rival Sebastien Alvarez, surpassing his man at turn one with a decisive move to seal a finishing spot of 10th place.
Mansell was unfortunately dealt a dose of bad luck in race two the following day when an upshifting-related gearbox drama heading to the grid to start the race required a trip to the pit lane. A quick steering wheel change fixed the issue, and some strong laps during the race were enough to set a time good enough for third place on the grid for the final race of the weekend.
With an opportunity to make amends for his earlier misfortunes, the Motopark teenager ended the opening lap running in fifth place with targets ahead of him to chase. The first of those would be Cem Bolukbasi, and Mansell's pursuit of the Turkish driver would be relentless throughout the 18-lap race.
Mansell, who races with support from Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27 and AMSL Diabetes Australia, twice picked up the slipstream on his opponent heading down the long main straight, before drawing alongside him with a better run out of the final chicane heading into turn one. Although his efforts were rebuffed, he kept up the pressure all the way until the chequered flag, sealing a top-five finish and second place of the rookie contenders.
The 2020 British F4 rookie champion therefore ended his part-time foray in Europe with five top-five finishes and a podium finish to his name in just three Euroformula Open outings, with a pair of rookie class victories as an additional reward for his performances.
Christian Mansell:“I've really enjoyed my outings in Euroformula Open this year, so I've got to thank everyone at Carlin and Motopark for the opportunities they've given me to come and race at these great race tracks and show what we can do in the future.
"The pace has been there all weekend. We topped the private test on our first time out on track which is pretty alright, but we didn't have the luck we needed to turn it into a podium or a win.
"The pace in the races was shown by where we started race three, and I tried everything to make up for the first lap but couldn't quite force a way through. We maybe deserved better, but that's racing and the knowledge and experience we've gained at these rounds has been so valuable. Now we look towards the winter, and see what we will be driving in 2022."
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.