Bianca Bustamante is Blazing a Trail For Female Drivers Everywhere

Bianca Bustamante is Blazing a Trail For Female Drivers Everywhere


Bianca Bustamante is McLaren’s first-ever female development driver. Here’s a rundown of the Filipino athlete’s journey in motorsports and where you can expect to find her next

Already a standout in this year’s F1 Academy, Bianca Bustamante is making headlines once again because she recently became the first female driver enlisted in the McLaren Driver Development Programme. She will be racing in the iconic papaya colors in 2024 as she represents the team in next year’s F1 Academy series. The 18-year-old Filipino racing driver is also set to drive for ART Grand Prix in the said all-women junior formula category. Guiding her in this new chapter of her professional career is former McLaren test driver, Formula 1 driver, and Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro, the current Racing Driver Development Director of McLaren Racing.

Bianca Bustamante is McLaren's first-ever female development driver

RELATED: Bianca Bustamante Raises Filipino Flag in F1 Academy Series 

This is not the first time Bianca brought the Philippine name to the global racing stage. Just this year, she claimed her maiden victory at the Sprint Race of Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, then had her first Feature Race triumph in Monza in July under PREMA Racing. Other notable accomplishments she had prior to this year include winning Top Rookie in Driver Standings at the 2022 W Series and becoming a three-time Macau Kart Grand Prix Winner from 2019 to 2020.

The one to watch

With such a promising start, the MEGA Woman to Watch proved that she’s among the strongest contenders in this generation—and the movers and shakers of the racing world took notice. From McLaren F1 Team Principal Andrea Stella to Cisco Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Carrie Palin, they all had good things to say about the new recruit and the new opportunities for women in motorsports.

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Notably, McLaren Racing Driver Development Director Emanuele Pirro said that Bianca is a promising young talent with a brilliant work ethic aligned with the team’s values. Echoing this sentiment, ART Grand Prix Team Principal Sébastien Philippe also remarked that her skill caught their eye the past year. “Her talent caught the attention of ART Grand Prix during her first F1 Academy season because she was one of our rivals! Her success and attitude nicely match the profile of drivers that the team aims to nurture as they strive for excellence in the highest level of motorsport,” he said in a statement.

Onward and upward

Bianca Bustamante is McLaren's first-ever female development driver
Photo: MCLAREN RACING (via Instagram)

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With the 18-year-old set to race in the 2024 F1 Academy, it’s clear to see she’s making headway on her ultimate dream of driving in Formula 1. “I dream of being the first female F1 driver in my era and bringing glory to the Philippines in the motorsport world,” Bianca shared in a previous interview with MEGA Active. But for her, it’s never just about winning or being championed, but rather about having a calling, which the F1 Academy helps her reach.

“I found my calling very early on in my life, and that is to represent the Philippines—to be up there, to be a role model, to be the difference I want to see in the world,” she said. “It really has been a whirlwind of a journey and I know that in everything that I do and everything that I say,  I’m inspiring one girl, or maybe a few more out there to pursue their dreams. And for me, that’s worth more than winning.”

If you want to follow the promising racer’s career, know that next year’s F1 Academy will again have seven rounds, stretching from March to December. The second F1 Academy series will take place in Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Spain, the Netherlands, Singapore, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi. Before then, you can expect Bianca to race in the final round of this year’s F1 Academy series in Austin from October 20 to 22, and is expected to land within the top five of the driver standings.

Watch what the teenage racing driver from Laguna had to say about this landmark moment.


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