MANILA, Philippines — Filipino racing driver Bianca Bustamante made history as the first female driver to join McLaren’s driver development program.
The 18-year-old Bustamante will don the British team’s iconic orange color while racing for ART Grand Prix in the 2024 F1 Academy season.
Thank you Papaya Family for this🥺
— Bianca Bustamante (@racerbia) October 18, 2023
“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 via F1’s official 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 program, which has produced the likes of seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, aims to help young promising racers advance to the most prestigious tournaments in the motorsport world, including Formula One.
In a video posted by McLaren, Bustamante expressed her excitement about joining the revered motor racing squad.
“Every single event I went to, F1, Formula E, IndyCar, I was always with McLaren. I wasn’t expecting this opportunity to come about, that I would actually be, you know, part of the team,” she said. “I am so happy to be joining the Papaya Family.”
Part of the papaya family! 😄 @RacerBia pic.twitter.com/izlKCsyauz
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 18, 2023
Bustamante made waves last May after landing her first F1 Academy race win at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. She then claimed another career win at Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza in July.
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