Filipina racecar driver Bustamante joins McLaren

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PINAY HISTORYMAKER. Bianca Bustamante is the first female driver to join the McLaren Development Program. PHOTO: F1 Academy/X
History unfolds yet again for another Filipina in sports.
McLaren Driver Development Programme announced on Wednesday, October 18, their recruitment of teen driver Bianca Bustamante – a Laguna native from the Philippines.
"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." Bustamante said in the released statement of McLaren on its website.
"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." she added.
The 18-year-old Bustamante became the first female and Filipina to join McLaren's development program, which replaced the Driver Development Program. Lewis Hamilton is the most notable name produced by the British team, conquering seven Formula One Drivers' Championships from 2008 to 2020.
She will represent McLaren in the 2024 F1 Academy season.
"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." Bustamante stated.
Before getting enrolled in McLaren, Bustamante made her name known in the world of motorsports by joining F1 Academy's Prema Racing last February this year.
Bustamante then captured her first title in Valencia, Spain in May 2023.
So far in her career, she has competed in the W Series, Formula 4 UAE Championship, Italian Formula 4, USF Juniors, and the most recent – the 2023 F1 Academy.
She began her racing journey at five years old and went on to win multiple Asian karting championships.

Bustamante seeks consistency

PHOTO: F1 Academy
Establishing consistency and improving mental strength are the things Bustamante wanted to gain upon enrollment in McLaren.
"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."
But in the meantime, Bustamante turned her focus first to the ongoing F1 Academy season.
"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 welcomes Bustamante

PHOTOS: Unsplash/McLaren
Director Emanuele Pirro and Team Principal Andrea Stella welcomed Bustamante to the McLaren.
Pirro said the Filipina sensation is a 'promising talent' whose work ethic aligns with McLaren's values.
"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." he told.
For her part, Stella quoted that McLaren's core principles include diversity and inclusivity; thus, Bustamante's inclusion in their team is a part of the organization's objective.
"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." she pointed.

Last Modified: 2023-Oct-22 09.35.13 UTC+0800