Christian Mansell ahead of F3 debut: ‘We’re already talking about next year’

Christian Mansell has been a consistent challenger to Oliver Goethe in the 2022 Euroformula Open Championship. F1 Feeder Series spoke to him ahead of his FIA F3 debut, his career so far, the differences between Australian and European motorsports, and his goals for the future.

By Oorjit Mishra

Born in Newcastle, New South Wales in 2005, Mansell fell in love with motorsport by watching his heroes on TV, which he looks back on fondly. “It was kind of at the time, where Sebastian Vettel was in his prime and I was a very big Vettel fanboy, I will say. And, yeah, he definitely kind of got me into the kind of rhythm of watching F1. In Australia, we have V8 Supercars, which is a very cool thing, so you’d always kind of make sure you get every single detail of what happened that weekend, whether it was on the streets of the Gold Coast or it was the Melbourne Grand Prix. I was always watching something motosports related.“

Given his love for watching racing, it’s no surprise that Mansell was behind the wheel at a young age. “I was actually supporting my older brother at a basketball game and there was hire karting centre next to it, I was about eight years old. I got into a hire kart and ever since then I was continuously nagging my dad to go back. I bought my first kart off eBay and then that has led me to where I am now. Very exciting as a young kid to be given the opportunity to just go racing with dad, and my family, they’ve always been supportive of this.”

There’s so much young talent performing at such a high standard

Christian Mansell on karting in Europe

“The first time I ever sat in the go kart I was petrified. When the fear died down I started embracing it and was progressing to a national state level. Then I was thinking ‘Okay, you’re not too bad. Do you want to venture out in Europe?’ And that was, again, petrifying, because these kids are the best kids in the world. Racing there was definitely overwhelming at times because there’s so much young talent performing at such a high standard.”

You get properly roughed up racing in Europe

Christian Mansell

While racing in Europe may have been daunting to begin with, Mansell soon found overcame the mental hurdle. “Everything got so much easier once you’ve kind of experienced it [for the first time]. When I went back to Australia everything seemed so simple in regards to driving standards because you get properly roughed up racing in Europe.” 

While Mansell raced the full season in the WSK Euro series in 2019, he continued to compete in the Australian Kart Championship. He described the difference in culture between Australian and European motorsport.

“I definitely feel like there’s a lot more passion in European karting, everyone’s just so much more switched on. If there’s a move being made, five people behind you will also try to follow. It’s do or die in those kinds of situations because you either just get completely mugged off to the side or you go past. In Australian karting you’d be smart, pick your moves. It’s is quite a culture shock.” 

Racing through a pandemic

Mansell made the step up to cars in 2019, racing in two rounds of Australian F4 as a guest driver, which he described as a “Good experience.” He then made the step up to a full season in British F4 in 2020, amidst the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Mansell described the experience of making the move to the UK and beginning his car career.

“We would have loads and loads of people come to the tent and want to take photos of you and sign autographs. I was like, ‘what? I’m an F4 driver. Why do people care so much about this?’ I was way too young and naive to realise that what I’m doing is actually really cool and I need to kind of take it in my stride. Ever since then I’ve always taken the time if someone wants a photo or an autograph.”

Chrisitan Mansell competing at Knockhill in British F4, August 2020 | Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

“The whole [single-seater] car scene is just so cool and I enjoy it more than karts. It’s just such a cool environment and I’m very lucky to be a part of it.”

Mansell had a tough year in British F4, lacking consistency, finishing 7th despite having a win and 4 podiums to his name. He reflected on his dips in form and was candid about his own lack of commitment.

“Being a naive teenager is what caused that dip and blaming the car instead of myself. Also a lack of experience probably didn’t help. I think it’s quite hard to understand when you’re young that you’re the problem sometimes. It’s quite easy as a kid to look past constructive criticism and just take it as criticism.”

Mansell felt that he made similar mistakes in GB3 in 2021, despite finishing 3rd in the standings.

“[it was] the same in GB3, just to a much lesser extent. I would say we started off quite poorly, I just wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could have. Then mid-to-late season I was definitely pushing as hard as I could and eventually got third.”

Christian Mansell in GB3 with Surrey outfit, Carlin | Credit: Christian Mansell

Mansell described how he grew as a competitor from having fans watching him at the circuit.

“It matures you quite a lot to be honest. I have people who support me that aren’t my family. You’ve got to pick your words. You’ve got to be smart, say the right things, portray yourself as a good person and make sure that it’s as important as being focused off track as it is on track. To be a good race car driver, you’ve also got to be a very mature person and you grow up quite quickly in this industry.”

History in the making

So far in his young career, Mansell has raced for two titans of the junior series in Carlin and Motopark. We asked him what he learned in the three year’s he’s spent with these highly accomplished outfits.

“Lots. It’s just casual for them to banter around, ‘Oh, Norris did this in this corner and it worked’. Or ‘Sainz did this in this corner and he found it settled the car.’ [Norris] was 15 when he did British F4 and they’ve still got all of his onboards. He’s still the reference in some corners. You find yourself looking at F3  onboards of Sainz, Norris again, Sasha Fenestraz, and Chilton! The most famous person that’s walked through the doors is obviously Sebastian Vettel. To be a part of that history, the drivers that drove for Trevor and Timo at Motopark to maybe ‘Christian Mansell, the F1 driver’ one day.” 

Euroformula title challenge

Mansell started his 2022 Euroformula Open campaign well, winning the first race of the season, but has since been outscored by Oliver Goethe. Mansell described how he adapted his mentality for this season, and how it helped him mount a title challenge.

“I think, considering Ollie came out of the blocks pretty hot I tried follow him with the same mentality that I had last year, just you’ve got to keep pushing. I think he’s had the edge in most races, I’ve had the edge in some races, and we kind of trade back and forth now. I think the gap has come down significantly since Spa. Spa was ridiculous.”

The ridiculous Spa weekend Mansell talks about was one where Goethe dominated, taking maximum points with a significant gap to second place in all three races. Mansell described how he bounced back in Hungary. 

“We made some setup tweaks to the car that have benefited me heaps. And look, to be honest, race three in Hungary, the race that I won, probably didn’t have the fastest car at that time. I know I didn’t have the fastest car, I had to make do, so if I was going to get my elbows out, it was going to be then.”

Mansell described the challenge of racing Goethe this year, and how he’s adapted his approach.

I can be a bit unpredictable at times and that’s one thing that I have to be if I want to beat him

Christian Mansell on racing Oliver Goethe

“I think if you’re not the fastest, sometimes you have to be the smartest and place people where you want to place them. There was a bunch of times where Ollie was right there and I probably could have defended, he probably wanted me to defend, but I didn’t. I can be a bit unpredictable at times and that’s one thing that I have to be if I want to beat him.”

Despite a 69 point gap to the lead of the championship, Mansell remains bullish. “We’re definitely not going to stop here. I will push him all the way and I will do what I have to do to to win this championship, because it’s 100% not over. Imola is quite a fast circuit. I like fast corners and I think it should be quite a good round for me.”

The future and F3

While it was yet to be announced when we spoke, Mansell will make his FIA F3 debut at the Hungaroring for Charouz. He was clear in his intentions to do a full campaign in the series for 2023.

“Hopefully the experience that I’ve gathered from the European circuits this year and Euroformula will benefit me when I go to F3. It’s crazy to think that we’re in the talking phase [of contracts] now. I haven’t even finished my season yet, but we’re already talking about what we’re going to do next year.”

To the surprise of no one, Mansel’s ultimate goal is to be Formula One. 

“I think that’s every boy’s dream. It was my dream since I was about as high as my hip, so I want to get there. I’m realistic as well. It’s not easy and I’m going to need a lot of help along the way, but you could get that help, so why not try?”

Should that not work out, Mansell remained open to the idea of a return to Australian motorsport. “It’s crossed my mind. I jokingly said at the dinner table last night, ‘You know what, I wouldn’t mind driving a Supercar one day.’ But at the moment I’m very focused on what I’m doing here now. If it was to all fall over tomorrow, I would definitely go into Supercars. But until that happens, I’ll be sticking in my nice Euroformula car.”

Mansell will make his FIA F3 debut alongside his rival Oliver Goethe at the Hungaroring this weekend, and also do the Monza round before returning to Euroformula Open action at Imola on the 3rd of September.

Header photo credit: Euroformula Open


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