O’Sullivan and Mansell share wins at Brands season opener

May 24, 2021

Carlin’s BRDC British Formula Three team started the 2021 season off in style with both Zak O’Sullivan and Christian Mansell taking race victories at Brands Hatch this weekend.

O’Sullivan scored strongly through the entirety of the weekend and left in championship control after a further podium and ten places gained in the reverse grid race. Mansell took a storming victory in the final race of the weekend after a stunning opening corner move, while Bryce Aron came agonisingly close to a podium finish during race three after a solid weekend full of battles and points finishes.

After a practice session on Saturday morning which saw Mansell set the quickest time, the Carlin trio were out for qualifying shortly afterwards around the Grand Prix loop. O’Sullivan was the early pace setter in the 20-minute push however a red flag, and new tyres for those around him, pushed him off the pole spot and in third place as the flag fell to set his race one starting position. Aron finished the session 12th and Mansell 13th.

The opening race of the weekend was a relatively processional affair however it yielded a strong podium for O’Sullivan who took the flag in third while Mansell moved up to eighth and Aron tenth.

Race two started with drama on the green flag lap when Alex Fores slid into the barriers on a greasy track which subsequently delayed the start and shortened the race distance. However, when the race got underway the action came quickly as O’Sullivan kept out of trouble as the leading duo of Ayrton Simmons and Bart Horsten collided in spectacular fashion allowing the Carlin driver to sweep by and into the lead.

O’Sullivan controlled the race from there and took his first victory of the 2021 season with Aron in ninth and Mansell in tenth.

Race three featured a new for 2021 full reverse grid from Saturday morning’s qualifying results. Expecting an exciting race Mansell delivered brilliantly as the lights went out and stormed past those around him as he positioned himself around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend – moving up to the lead of the race in just one corner having started seventh. Aron, who lined up for the race in eighth, followed his teammate through the gaps he found and had soon worked his way up to fourth with some great moves along the way.

O’Sullivan meanwhile had started all the way back in 17th so had a fight on his hands. Despite overtaking being notoriously tricky, O’Sullivan began picking off those around him in the opening lap and before long had worked his way in to the top ten.

Mansell controlled the race supremely to take his maiden victory while Aron came incredibly close to a podium as he chased down Dexter Patterson; the American racer crossed the line nose to tail taking fourth place as the flag fell. O’Sullivan gained further up to seventh as he crossed the line – and with every position gained leading to an additional championship point, O’Sullivan rounded off the weekend in championship control.

O’Sullivan said of the weekend,

“Qualifying gave us a good start to the weekend and even though I didn’t have the best start in race one, I was still pleased to get the podium. For race two I inherited the lead when the leaders crashed but we were still able to capitalise on the pace. The full reverse grid race three was a bit exciting! I didn’t want to be too risky but there were a few gaps I went for and was then up to seventh from 17th. Overall a really good start to the year.”

Reflecting on his win Mansell said,

“This feels amazing! That start was just something else and I honestly don’t think I could have asked for more from that race. We had safety cars but everything just went our way out there.

“It’s just a surreal experience to be winning races already and I couldn’t be any happier really. I’m already really happy with the team, and I’m still buzzing!”

Aron rounded up his first British F3 race weekend,

“I’m really happy with how we’ve progressed – I want to say thanks to the team and my engineer Jimmy for everything we’ve done this weekend. I struggled at the start of that final race but I was able to make positions around the outside where I could. Unfortunately, we just missed out on the podium, but I’m still so pleased with the result.”

Round two gets underway at Silverstone 26th-27th June.