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Bustamante PREMA Filipina F1 Academy Race Barcelona Valencia

F1 Academy’s Bustamante on making history with her first career win and racing with PREMA

F1 Academy has completed the first two rounds and has seen four different drivers take victory across the six races so far

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Bianca Bustamante made history as the first Filipina to win an F1 Academy race at only 18-years-old, making it her first career victory racing with PREMA Racing. 

Bustamante PREMA F1 Academy win Barcelona
Bianca Bustamante of PREMA Racing and the Philippines on the podium of her first career win (Credit: Twitter @racerbia)

F1 Academy debuted this year with 15 young women taking to the grid.  The championship has completed its first two rounds in Spielberg and Valencia; across the six races, there have been four different race winners.

Marta García of PREMA Racing has won three of the six races, taking two victories in Spielberg and one in Valencia. The Al Qubaisi sisters have both achieved a race victory as well and the only other driver to have won a race so far is Bianca Bustamante.

Bustamante currently races for PREMA Racing alongside García and Chloe Chong. She’s an 18-year-old Filipina and raced in the W Series championship last year, making her debut in the series.

After taking her win in Valencia, FormulaNerds, as well as other selected media, spoke to Bustamante about her weekend.

Bustamante’s Weekend in Valencia

Round two of the 2023 F1 Academy season not only saw Bustamante take her first career win, but also her maiden pole position.

The format of an F1 Academy weekend consists of two qualifying sessions, after free practice, and then three races. In Qualifying 1, Bustamante set a time of 1:36.636, putting her in P8. However, for Race 2 this meant that she would begin the race on pole position after the reverse grid was applied.

From her maiden pole, Bustamante was able to keep the lead and turn pole position into a race victory. Although she did have a close call towards the final stages of Race 2, but managed to keep going to take the win.

However, despite her strong performance, Bustamante was new to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

The difficulties of Valencia

Speaking to FormulaNerds, Bustamante revealed her thoughts on the track and the difficulties she faced over the course of the weekend. The Filipina said:

“Having never been here in Valencia, I think it was quite technical. There are a lot of corners and I think what made it super difficult is actually not having a lot of rest in between the corners.

“So you’ve always got to hustle the car on the entry to prepare a lot to have a good exit because the track limits here are a bit crucial, being a motorbike circuit, it was so flat. So you have little to no margin for track limits.

“Everything had to be precise from your steering inputs, your throttle application. And I think that itself made the track super difficult and it was very hard to pass. So overall, I think it’s one of the most technical circuits I’ve been to.”

F1 Academy remains in Spain for round three of the season, which is in Barcelona. Whilst the Valencian circuit was new to Bustamante, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya certainly is not.

Heading into the upcoming weekend, the Filipina driver sits sixth in the championship standings on 44 points. In the Winners’ Press Conference, Bustamante spoke about the upcoming races in Barcelona and how she’s feeling ahead of the weekend.

“A track I’m quite familiarised with”

Before the F1 Academy season started, the drivers took part in pre-season testing in Barcelona. On top of that, many of the drivers have raced at the circuit in other categories of single-seater racing.

Bustamante, coming from a race win in Valencia, feels confident about the weekend ahead but also wary of the challenges the track provides.

Bustamante Philippines F1 Academy PREMA Barcelona
Bianca Bustamante of Philippines and PREMA Racing (16) drives on track during day two of F1 Academy Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. (Photo by Alex Caparros – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Speaking to the media, Bustamante said:

“Barcelona is a track I’ve been to last year and we did a couple of tests here as well. So I think it’s a track that I’m quite familiarised with, but again it is quite a technical corner from medium to high speed.

“I think overall, what I just need to really work on was that when we first tested in Barcelona it was the first time with the new aero package and the new tyres. So I think when I first drove the car, I wasn’t pushing it to its optimum limit.

“I think that’s just what I need to work on when we get back down for the next race weekend as well as working on some other few techniques that I’ve learned the past month because I really do feel like as a driver I’ve evolved a lot from just last week to now.

“So I think coming to Barcelona, we’re looking for a very strong weekend.”

So far this season, PREMA Racing have achieved four race victories in García and Bustamante. The Italian team currently leads the Teams’ Championship by 28 points to MP Motorsport.

Racing for an iconic team like PREMA

FormulaNerds asked Bustamante what it’s like racing for a team like PREMA Racing, that has such a strong presence in the junior categories of single-seater racing. Bustamante admitted:

“PREMA has always been a team that I looked up to ever since I was young, being known for its junior development program. A lot of great drivers have come here, through their single-seater career.

“And to actually have the chance to develop as a young driver, going into the PREMA environment has been super beneficial for my growth over the past few months.”

Bustamante also touched on having García as a teammate as well, who has more experience in single-seater racing. The Filipina driver said:

“Having Marta as my teammate, she’s very experienced and knows all the tracks very well; she’s had lots of wins in her career, so I think having her as my teammate actually helped fast-track my progress.

“And of course, having a win, I wasn’t expecting myself to have my first ever career win this weekend.”

Bustamante went on to say what it meant to her to win an F1 Academy race, to have the national anthem of the Philippines played for all to hear. She said:

“I think it meant a lot to me, to my country, to have the anthem played for the first time. It was amazing to hear. And that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for PREMA.”

There are five more rounds of the 2023 F1 Academy season with 15 more races to go. Will PREMA be able to clinch the Teams’ Title? And will Bustamante take a second career win?

Headline Image: Twitter @racerbia

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