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Bianca Bustamante

Bianca Bustamante joins McLaren F1 Driver Development Programme

A new talent joins the McLaren talent roster...

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F1 Academy driver, Bianca Bustamante becomes the first woman to join McLaren’s Driver Development Programme.

Bianca Bustamante. Photo credits: Eric Jones via Getty Images
Bianca Bustamante. Photo credits: Eric Alonso via Getty Images

It was announced that 18-year-old Bianca Bustamante will be joining the British team’s programme from 2024. She will represent the papaya colours for next year’s F1 Academy season.

The youngster started at five years old in karting where she won multiple championships across Asia. She moved over to single-seaters in 2022 where she has shown her raw incredible talent. Since racing in single-seaters she has taken part in several championships across the world including Formula 4 UAE, Italian Formula 4, and W Series before joining PREMA for the inaugural season of F1 Academy this year – where she has won two races and sits seventh overall in the standings.

As well as joining the historical Woking team, Bustamante will also be switching teams from PREMA to ART Grand Prix for her 2024 campaign.

Bustamante joining the wide pool of talent McLaren provides an opening for progression in the future, with their links to IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E and Extreme E.

The Filippo speaks out about this incredible opportunity she has been given and expresses how much it means to her:

“This is such an unreal moment in my career, to sign with McLaren and ART Grand Prix is way beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined growing up racing karts in the Philippines,

“I still have a hard time seeing my name next to McLaren without getting emotional, as the history and heritage linked to this team leaves me truly speechless.

“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, and for this I am so thankful. 2023 was all about improving my speed which I demonstrated across several races this year, but in 2024 my aim is to establish consistency and improve my mental strength in order to make a title challenge in the coming F1 Academy season.”

Bustamante continues her statement by voicing her gratitude for Susie Wolff and F1 Academy:

“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! A big thanks goes to Susie Wolff and the team at F1 Academy for fighting so hard for us girls and to give us this opportunity to be the best we can be.

“Additional thanks go to Zak Brown, Andrea Stella, Emanuele Pirro, Sebastian Philippe, my sponsors, and all my supporters for believing in me and making this all possible. I am full of gratitude, and I promise to give it my all.”

McLaren speaks out about their newest addition

McLaren F1 team principal, Andrea Stella also praises the young talent joining the team and how it is a step forward for women in motorsports:

“The team are delighted for Bianca to join us, and for McLaren to be involved in F1 Academy. It’s a core principle of ours to be a diverse and inclusive team, so we’re pleased to be so involved in Formula 1’s work on the important topic of improving gender diversity within motorsport.

“We also look forward to seeing Bianca grow and progress within the McLaren Racing Driver Development programme under Emanuele’s guidance.”

Emanuele Pirro, the Director of the McLaren Racing Driver Development said:

“I’m pleased that Bianca is joining our Driver Development programme. She’s a promising young talent who has a brilliant work ethic and is aligned closely to our team’s values.

“I look forward to working with Bianca on her development as a racing driver. We’re also excited for Bianca to be representing the team in the F1 Academy series and we look forward to seeing her race in papaya in 2024.”

This announcement opens the doors for other women in motorsports and is a stepping stone to achieving a more equal environment.

Bustamante will be supporting the American Grand Prix in Texas this weekend with F1 Academy making their live debut on Sky Sports for the season finale.

Featured image credits: @ARTGP via X

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