Furious Mansell loses F3 victory to Tsolov with rookie error under Safety Car

Furious Mansell loses F3 victory to Tsolov with 'rookie error' under Safety Car

Furious Mansell loses first F3 victory to Tsolov with “rookie error” under Safety Car

Christian Mansell was furious with himself after throwing away what would have been his first Formula 3 victory in the sprint race at the Red Bull Ring.

Alpine junior driver Nikola Tsolov snatched the win away from Mansell, who revealed he slowed down too hastily when the Safety Car was deployed late in the race. That allowed Tsolov and Martinius Stenshorne to demote Mansell to the bottom step of the podium.

Following a last-lap restart, Tsolov held the pair back to claim his second win of the year.

Partial-reverse-grid pole winner Stenshorne was passed by Mansell on the run to turn one, before Tsolov took second from Stenshorne around the outside of turn four. There was an early Safety Car period due to Kacper Sztuka becoming stranded at the outside of the first corner, before Mansell led away at the restart from Tsolov.

Tsolov kept in touch with the leader and once DRS was activated on lap seven, he passed his ART team mate for the lead with a bold move around the outside of turn four. However, Mansell did not allow Tsolov to escape and challenged to reclaim his lead by charge by into turn three, only for Tsolov to take it back at turn four, again around the outside.

A three-way battle developed when Stenshorne joined the fight, with Mansell taking the lead back again out of turn four. However, a heavy crash on the approach to turn four for Sebastian Montoya, who had been battling with Alex Dunne, brought out the Safety Car.

When the Safety Car was deployed, Mansell suddenly dropped two places behind Tsolov and Stenshorne, leaving him third. Mansell later revealed he backed off as soon as he heard the Safety Car warning beep, but before receiving the signal on his dash.

“I made a pretty rookie error which sucks,” said Mansell. He confirmed his two rivals “didn’t pass under yellows.”

Mansell, still fuming, took no part in the champagne celebration afterwards.

McLaren junior Dunne finished in fourth ahead of Laurens van Hoepen and Gabriele Mini. Oliver Goethe, Tim Tramnitz, Noel Leon and Sami Meguetounif completed the top ten. The result sees Leonardo Fornaroli keep the lead of the championship despite failing to score a point, with Luke Browning still in second also missing out on the top ten.

Tsolov holds off Stenshorne for second win of the season

Nikola Tsolov has secured his second win of the Formula 3 campaign in the Austrian sprint race, holding off Martinius Stenshorne and Christian Mansell in a final-lap restart after a late safety car.

Starting from pole, Stenshorne immediately surrendered the lead of the 21-lap race to Mansell after making a tardy launch. Having attempted to regain the position on the run to Turn 4, things then got worse as a second ART of Tsolov ran around the outside at that corner and relegated the Norwegian to third.

Before the opening lap reached its conclusion, the safety car was called into action as the marshals took to the track to recover Kacper Sztuka’s MP Motorsport entry after damage caused in a collision involving Charlie Wurz (Jenzer) and Joseph Loake (Rodin) forced him to retire.

The interruption also gave championship contender Dino Beganovic a chance to reset at the rear of the pack following a Turn 1 spin which had dropped the Prema driver from eighth.

From the restart, the field remained largely in a single DRS train as Mansell and Tsolov duelled for the lead with pass and counter-pass moves largely at turns three and four, both drivers taking full advantage of the three DRS zones at the Red Bull Ring.

But it was Leonardo Fornaroli (Trident) who performed the move of the race, skimming the gravel on the exit of Turn 5 to take Nikita Bedrin (AIX) for 15th on lap 11.

Just as Mansell dropped behind Stenshorne to the final step on the podium, the race was interrupted by the safety car for the second time after Sebastian Montoya made heavy contact with the wall before his Campos entry came to a halt in the middle of the track.

The incident was triggered when he ran wheel-to-wheel with Alex Dunne approaching Turn 4, with Montoya taking to the grass to continue the battle before losing traction and spinning across the front of the MP Motorsport car.

With only a one-lap shootout to negotiate, Tsolov controlled the restart and led the pack across the line with the top places remaining unchanged; although Mansell questioned the moves of the top two, hinting they had been completed under yellow flag or safety car conditions.

Clarifying what had happened in the post-race press conference, Mansell retracted any suggestion of wrongdoing, revealing he had slowed in reaction to a beep that warns of a yellow flag somewhere on the track instead of waiting for the second tone which confirms a virtual or full safety car.

In the championship battle, Gabriele Mini closed the gap to Fornaroli and Luke Browning, with four points now covering the lead trio after neither of the top two troubled the scoreboard in 12th and 11th respectively.

By Deepika

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