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Bianca Bustamante Becomes the First Female Driver for McLaren

Bianca Bustamante
James Francisco

Filipina motorsport driver Bianca Bustamante finds a new home in the Formula 1 (F1) Academy, signing with ART Grand Prix as a member of McLaren Racing in the division’s second season. The 18-year-old emerged in the coveted “Papaya Orange” on social media last October 18, 2023, which also saw McLaren F1 Team CEO Zack Brown extend his excitement and congratulations. Evidenced by her pair of victories at Valencia and Monza, she occupies a new seat on the grid for a promising sophomore year.

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Bustamante is the first female driver of McLaren’s Driver Development Program, joining a championship-caliber constructor with 60 years of excellence. Responsible for the progression of seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen, and Alain Prost (among its long list of successes), she enters the 2020-established Emanuele Pirro-led division, recognized for its contributions in the  F1, IndyCar, and Formula E categories.

A long-time supporter of the British manufacturer, she regards the experience as “a dream come true.” 

“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,” she mentioned.

Currently seventh in the F1 Academy driver standings, Bustamante takes her final bow in Prema Racing’s red-white-green livery at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on the October 20-22 weekend.

“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.”

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