After a two-round stint last season, Christian Mansell is champing at the bit to get started, as the Australian driver prepares for his first full Formula 3 campaign with Campos Racing.
The Spanish team enter the 2023 season off the back of solid showing last year. Whilst the results didn’t always match the points-contending pace the Campos trio showed, David Vidales did manage to claim a memorable victory on home soil in the Barcelona Sprint Race.
It is precisely those kinds of performances that leave Mansell optimistic and alongside his team, is firmly driven towards extracting the maximum out of every opportunity.
“I think they made a good step forward last year. The car felt good, I like the way the car feels, so that’s always promising. I’m just looking forward to my first season in F3, it’s always going to be exciting,” said Mansell.
“They seem to be moving forward in themselves and they want to do better. You can definitely see that there’s a want to win, there’s not just a ‘ah, you know if it comes it comes’, they want to achieve next year, so that makes me want to achieve.”
His 2023 F3 campaign represents only Mansell’s fourth full season in single-seater racing, after stepping up in 2019 with several guest appearances in Australian Formula 4. From there, he switched over to racing in the British F4 Championship, where he finished seventh.
2021 saw him dovetail a campaign in the GB3 Championship, where he scored two wins and five podiums on his way to third, with a three-round appearance in the Euroformula Open Championship. Opting to stick with Euroformula for a second run last year, the 17-year-old put in an impressive showing, netting three wins and 15 podiums on his way third in the Standings.
Additionally, Mansell also made his F3 debut in 2022, driving for Charouz Racing System at the sixth and seventh rounds in Budapest and Spa-Francorchamps. By having already driven on seven of the 10 tracks he’ll be racing on this year; Mansell sees the switch to competing in Europe as a valuable growth opportunity but admits there was and still is plenty to learn about adapting to his new machinery.
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“I’ve definitely grown a lot as a driver in general. As a whole, learning the European circuits was really, really beneficial obviously. It really helped me develop as a driver and I think I’ve gotten a lot better driving in that Championship,” he noted.
“Arrive to the track half an hour earlier than you would think because there’s a lot of people! On track, everyone says this but it’s so true – learning the tyres. It’s a completely different tyre, everything you know about the tyres, you just need to learn again. It was quite fun actually, I enjoyed it.
“Also, the car itself – the way it balances aerodynamically is just different. With big tyres as well it’s a different sensation driving it from a FRECA car to a Euroformula car, to an F4 car, to anything really. I also like the fact that it’s got lots of power.”
With less than a month to go before pre-season testing begins in Sakhir, Bahrain, Mansell’s attention has fully turned towards getting himself into the best shape possible to manage the physical demands ahead of him – particularly his endurance levels given the length of racing on 10 very different and challenging circuits.
“Fitness as usual, that’s obviously a big one because the races are a little bit longer than what I’ve done before, I think they’re 10 minutes longer,” he noted. “As always, just focusing on keeping fit and keeping sharp. It’s hard because you’re not really stopping, you’re always doing something, so it’s like ‘what do I need to work on?’ But I’ll probably work on it next week so.”
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Remaining level-headed, Mansell isn’t getting ahead of himself at this early stage and says that it won’t be until after the season-opener that he’ll have his first full understanding of where he and his Campos team are at. Choosing to focus on his feeling within the car rather than specific results-based targets, the Australian recognises that improving in the Championship won’t be an overnight task.
“If the opportunity arises, I’m not, not going to take it. Realistically, I’ll tell you where I’m at after race one in Bahrain because then all the funny business stops and you have the heavy fuel loads, light fuel loads, new tyres and old tyres and you go racing.
He added: “Now I don’t really have any expectations, but you’re always going to have expectations. I think overall, just if I feel like I’ve gotten the best out of myself and the car then I will be very, very happy, but the reality of that happening is low because it’s so new and it’s so fresh. As a whole, my goal is to extract the most out of me in the car.”