The Filipina F1 racer made history as the first female Filipino driver to win a race in the inaugural Formula 1 Academy season.
Up-and-coming Filipina motorsports driver Bianca Bustamante is setting records. The 18 year-old made history in early May as the first Filipina race car driver to win in the 2023 Formula 1 (F1) Academy series after bagging Race 2 at the Circuit Ricardo Termo in Valencia, Spain.
The teenage race car driver stood at the podium to receive her award for Race 2 as she hoisted the Philippine flag and the Philippine national anthem was played in the background. Her win follows her first podium finish in Spielberg, Austria, where she finished second in the F1 Academy’s debut race.
“I put in a lot of hard work over the last couple of months to be able to really fight up there heading into the F1 Academy season and for it to actually show the results is great,” Bustamante said in an interview with F1 Academy.
The 2023 F1 Academy season is historic in itself, as it is the inaugural season of the all-female Formula 4-level racing series founded by Formula One. Fourteen other female racers from five different racing teams are competing for the first time in the spec series, with Bustamante being part of the PREMA Racing team together with the current frontrunner, Marta García of Spain, and Chloe Chong of the United Kingdom.
Prior to the establishment of the F1 Academy, there was the all-female W Series Championship, wherein Bustamante was the Scholarship Shootout Winner and the top rookie in driver standings in 2022. However, the W Series is believed to limit the career progression of female racers because it is a separate entity from F1.
“It is amazing to get to inspire other people through my journey and through the challenges I face,” Bustmante shared with F1 Academy. “I hope I can inspire another young girl to pursue her dreams. They inspire me more than I inspire them, so it has been a really good experience.”
A karting racer since she was five, Bustamante’s road to the F1 circuit began two years ago, upon her selection as the only contestant from Asia at the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Girls On Track – Rising Stars scholarship. After her runs at the Formula 4 Testing in 2021 and 2022, and her successful run at the W Series Championship, she was announced to be the first driver in the three-car lineup of PREMA racing for F1 Academy earlier this year. At the time of writing, Bustamante holds P6 for driver statistics, having garnered a total of 56 points for the season so far, and is competing in the Barcelona leg of the Formula 1 Academy season.