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Meet Bianca Bustamante, the first female driver in Formula 1 academy

As the sun sets on another thrilling Formula 1 season, the motorsport world is gearing up for a transformative year ahead with a fresh face at the forefront. In a historic announcement, McLaren, one of Formula 1’s most iconic teams, has introduced the latest addition to their Driver Development Programme: Bianca Bustamante. The 18-year-old Filipino sensation is set to make her mark in the highly-anticipated 2024 F1 Academy season, underlining McLaren’s commitment to fostering the talents of budding female racers.

Bianca Bustamante’s journey from the karting tracks in the Philippines to the grandeur of Formula 1 is nothing short of inspiring. From the tender age of 5, she embraced the sport, steadily amassing accolades, including multiple karting championships across Asia. However, her remarkable ascent didn’t stop there.

In 2022, Bustamante embarked on her maiden campaign in the W Series, a renowned single-seater racing championship for women. The experience and exposure she gained during her W Series stint became a stepping stone for her budding career.

The 2023 season saw her competing in the UAE Formula 4 championship, racing for the prestigious PREMA Racing team. This year, Bustamante has already claimed two top-10 finishes, making her presence felt on the international racing stage.

Nonetheless, her journey of growth and excellence took an even more significant stride when McLaren announced her enrollment in the McLaren Driver Development Programme. This milestone makes her the first female driver to join the programme, following the trailblazing footsteps of racing legends like Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris.

The excitement surrounding Bianca Bustamante’s inclusion in the F1 Academy is palpable. As she gears up to represent McLaren in this prestigious all-female racing series in 2024, her journey is already marked by a legacy of overcoming challenges and achieving the extraordinary.

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In her own words, Bustamante expressed her gratitude for this unique opportunity, saying, “To sign with McLaren and ART Grand Prix is way beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined growing up racing karts in the Philippines.” Her enthusiasm is infectious as she acknowledges the rich history and heritage associated with McLaren and their unwavering support for female talent in motorsport.

She went on to add, “I’m so grateful for this opportunity as I believe I now have the best possible development structure around me to take the next step up in my career. For now, my focus is to finish off the F1 Academy season strongly here in Austin, but we’ll get to work immediately on the 2024 season. I’ve never been more motivated in my life!”

Bianca Bustamante’s impressive resume boasts experiences in various racing series, from the W Series and Formula 4 UAE Championship to the Italian Formula 4, USF Juniors, and most recently, the 2023 F1 Academy season. With two wins and two podiums under her belt, she is well-poised to make her presence felt in the racing world.

Her journey with McLaren and ART Grand Prix is an affirmation of the team’s commitment to nurturing young talents on the path to Formula 1, IndyCar, and Formula E. As Bustamante represents McLaren in the 2024 F1 Academy season, racing with ART Grand Prix, it’s clear that she’s destined for greatness.

Bianca Bustamante’s story is not only a testament to her unwavering dedication but also a milestone in the journey towards gender equality in motorsport. As we await the 2024 F1 Academy season, her name will undoubtedly be one to watch, making history as she continues to break barriers and inspire the next generation of young female racers.

So, as the engines roar and the racing world anticipates another groundbreaking season, all eyes are on Bianca Bustamante, who is set to become an icon for aspiring female racers worldwide. McLaren’s commitment to her talent reinforces their dedication to change the face of motorsport, and we eagerly await her journey in the 2024 F1 Academy season.

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