In a weekend dominated by ever-changing weather, Christian Mansell stormed his way to the podium, rocketing up the order from P23 on the grid to P2 at the chequered flag in the Spa-Francorchamps Feature Race.

It was a feat like this that captured many people’s attention and saw the Australian become the recipient of the Dallard Award for Best Comeback of the Year at the 2023 FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 Prize Giving ceremony.

One of the most exhilarating races of the season was already on a knife-edge from the get-go as a pre-race downpour left the field deliberating whether to opt for the slick or wet-weather tyres. Starting towards the tail end of the order after a disappointing Qualifying, the Campos Racing driver had nothing to lose by gambling on the blue-walled Pirellis, which proved to be the perfect call.

Recognising that he had the potential to be one of the fastest in the beginning stages, Mansell took full advantage, blistering past those ahead to fourth by the end of the opening lap. He then had to weigh up another tough call, whether to follow race leader Paul Aron into the pits to swap for slicks after a timely Safety Car appearance on Lap 4.

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Holding his nerve and remaining out on track, the hard part of getting through the field was done, but second-place Mansell had one last car in his sights - Taylor Barnard.

With five laps to go, he sat right on the Jenzer Motorsport driver’s tail and risked a move, as the pair almost made contact. Ultimately, he couldn’t find his way through, but that didn’t dampen his spirits after a heroic fightback to earn his second podium of the season.

“The night just got a lot better!” Mansell remarked. “It was mental and watching the video back, all the emotions come back as well. It was such a crazy race and after such a terrible Qualifying, to comeback and have that sort of result was so, so cool.”