EXCLUSIVE: Bianca Bustamante on Her Friendship with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris

EXCLUSIVE: Bianca Bustamante on Her Friendship with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris

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Filipina racing driver Bianca Bustamante is currently ruling over the tracks. She catches up with MEGA about her first podium finish, giving back to home, and her friendship with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris

Bianca Bustamante, the Filipina wonderchild, is living her life at a speed unlike anybody else’s, yet she still finds time to slow down and enjoy each moment. Booked and busy, the racer sits down for an intimate conversation with MEGA about life beyond, around, and on the circuits. For this 19-year-old Laguna native, it’s only a drive forward from here.

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Bianca Bustamante Embraces Showing Vulnerability in the World of Formula 1

Bianca Bustamante is raising the Philippine flag in motorsport today

Bagging that silver

“My approach this year is very different. Now, I’m a bit more composed, certain about myself, I’m not second-guessing,” Bianca begins. “Last season, I had incredible imposter syndrome. This year, I came into Miami and I just knew it’s where I wanted to be and I have what it takes. That switch of mentality allowed me to push beyond my boundaries and bring home a podium.”

Bianca claimed her maiden podium of the 2024 F1 Academy in Miami at the beginning of May. Following ninth position in the first leg, she regained her pacing and speed in the second race and crossed the finish line just less than four seconds behind top placer Abbi Pulling. “I was just focused on the goal, and the goal was to go forward. It’s hard to stay focused and not be scared, but everything just fell through. The podium is amazing, and that’s something we still have lots of time for in the season.”

Bianca Bustamante racing F1 Academy first podium finish
Bianca earns her first podium finish of the F1 Academy season

Her victory coincided with McLaren ace Lando Norris’ first F1 win as well, culminating a successful weekend for the Papaya Orange. “Celebrating this with him and the rest of our family was incredible,” Bianca describes. “For a moment, the whole world turned into Papaya.”

Bianca Bustamante and Lando Norris papaya orange
Bianca and Lando Norris share a successful ‘Papaya’ weekend

Bianca is set to head off to Barcelona for the third F1 Academy race this June.

Racing against red

Ahead of the May 31 release of the F1 video game, the F1 24 Miami Search event pinned Bianca against Ferrari F1 star Carlos Sainz. The twosome ignited Ferrari and McLaren fans’ excitement as they raced head to head together for the first time. Bianca weighed in on her friendship with the three-time F1 race winner: “I see him all the time in the paddock but we’ve rarely done any events together,” she tells MEGA. “So this was a good time for us. And in that race, we tried to be professional, but it’s hard not to mess around. And I think people really enjoyed our…well, not rivalry because he let me win,” Bianca laughs. “But I think they enjoyed our interaction, and that’s always nice.”

She continues to say that while motorsport is indeed a professional and serious display of speed, discipline, and passion, her match with Carlos showed the friendlier and the fun side of racing. “Nothing’s at stake so you’re not really racing—you just get to have fun with friends, so that’s why we really enjoyed that,” she shares. “And I know a lot of Filipinos are big Ferrari fans and big Carlos Sainz fans, so reading all the comments was a lot of fun.”

One of the said comments was: “Bia and Carlos are the duo I didn’t know I wanted!” The red and the orange are indeed a pair we need to see more of. Watch their race here.

Bringing home to the red carpet

Following her Papaya podium, the racer had the opportunity to step outside of her racing suit and helmet, and the trademark McLaren orange. A twist in her usual style, she asserted her feminine side at the third annual Gold Gala last May 11. With stars gathering to celebrate Asian Pacific influential talent across entertainment, fashion, technology and more, Bianca debuted a remarkable entry into the prestigious gold carpet of the event—even whilst admitting to MEGA that this was not her comfort zone. “I was thinking: I’m not ready for this, I’m going to say something wrong,” Bianca confesses. “But when my glam team came in, and of course, the dress, everything kind of settled and I just knew I needed to be comfortable in my own skin and it’s going to be enough.”

The Laguna native shares further that her first Gold Gala meant that she needed to wear something from home that showed off her morena color. Celebrity stylist Danyul Brown curated a sophisticated look that honored her Filipino background. Wearing an enthralling baby blue number from Monique Lhuillier’s Spring 2023 collection, the rising star showcased Filipina craftsmanship and excellence on the carpet. The Filipino fashion designer’s pieces have been worn by global icons such as Jennifer Lopez and Taylor Swift. At the occasion, Bianca was the picture of poise and elegance—despite being outside of the racing tracks, she looked right at home in her dress.

Bianca Bustamante Monique Lhuillier Gold Gala
Bianca wears Monique Lhuillier to her first Gold Gala
Bianca Bustamante Monique Lhuillier Gold Gala
“I wanted to have something a part of my heritage while I was walking that carpet. Every step felt so heavy, but I embraced it with so much joy and pride.”

Spreading Filipino culture to the world

Gold Gala and motorsport aside, Bianca also manages to squeeze in and explore another of her passions—chocolates. Spearheading a special collaboration with Marsatta Chocolate for a limited edition collection, Bianca dips her toes into crafting a recipe that features a key ingredient in Filipino cuisine: ube. “It’s the Filipino in me, we always have room for dessert,” she jokes with MEGA. “And ube is my favorite. It’s not very known, but it has a strong flavor that is not too strong that others can’t enjoy. If we mix it with a perfect percentage of cocoa, it can be something that’s good—so that’s what I did with Chef Jeffray.”

Bianca Bustamante Chef Jeffray Marsatta Chocolate collaboration ube
Bianca with Chef Jeffray of Marsatta Chocolate

This collaboration is a passion project close to the racer’s heart. Releasing the Bianca x Marsatta Ube Brownie Bar is her way of giving back to the community and spreading Filipino culture to the world—one chocolate piece at a time. But it doesn’t stop there.

“It had to be more than chocolates,” she tells MEGA. “Everything I’ve done, I’ve done with love, and this had to have its purpose—it’s not something I wanted to profit off of. So I did a lot of research with my time and we reached out to Gawad Kalinga.”

Marsatta Ube chocolate brownie bar collaboration
The limited edition Bianca x Marsatta Ube Chocolate Brownie Bar

“I want this to be successful so I can give back and help my country.”

All profits made from this project will be donated to Kusinang Kalinga, the organization’s anti-poverty program aiming to alleviate hunger and malnutrition among Filipino children and communities. A few days after its launch, Bianca has sold around 300 bars. She says, “A sincere thank you for supporting this cause, this truly means so much to me and to everyone back home in the Philippines.”

Continuing to raise the Philippine flag in motorsport and spreading Filipino culture to the world, Bianca is indeed setting both her engine and heart ablaze. 


Photos and Featured Image: BIANCA BUSTAMANTE (via Instagram), MEGA ARCHIVES

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