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The Dark Horse: Bianca Bustamante, the first Filipina who won in the F1 Academy race

The Dark Horse: Bianca Bustamante, the first Filipina who won in the F1 Academy race

Who said racing is only for the boys? This Filipina proved that she’s a girl boss on the race track! Bianca Bustamante made history as she became the first Filipina to win a Formula 1 Academy (F1) race in Valencia, Spain.

Behind the helmet, Bianca leads a colorful racing journey. Her F1 Academy win is a monumental mark as she becomes an inspiration to young Filipinas that they have a place in the world of Formula racing.

Bianca Bustamante’s first race

Bianca was three years old when she started learning about the karting scene. At the age of five, she’s already competing in karting. It seems like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree because she is the daughter of former go-kart driver Raymund Bustamante. On her website, Bianca shared that her father worked tirelessly to support her karting career.

Photo | Bianca Bustamante Website

“The first time I drove a race kart was when I was three years old. I could barely walk, could barely say my name, and I already had a steering wheel in my hands. I vividly remember how happy I was driving and how fast I was going,” Bianca said in her interview with the Insider.

Rough road ahead

She opened up facing struggles financially as motorsport is an expensive route. Bianca also shared that gender-barrier is a hurdle in the racing scene. But with her parents’ relentless support, the 18-year-old professional Formula car driver is unstoppable in reaching her F1 dream. Despite starting at a disadvantage as she paused racing during the pandemic, Bianca clinched a seat in the W Series in 2022.

Photo | Bianca Bustamante Website

“I was in grade one and I told my dad, this is what we have to do for me to make it. I feel like I’ve got what it takes but it’s up to you to take that risk on me,” she told Vogue Philippines.

Back on track

Bianca proudly carries the Philippine flag as one of the 15 girls who made it into the F1 Academy. She is competing under the group PREMA Racing, an Italian motorsport team.

F1 Academy aims to hone and develop young female race car drivers to quality into higher levels of competition. Their objective is to make the male-dominated sport more accessible to females.

Photo | Bianca Bustamante Website

Five teams, namely ART Grand Prix, Campos Racing, Carlin, MP Motorsport, and PREMA Racing, are headed by F2 or F3 instructors. They will guide the all-female participants on the race track.

A strong racer, Bianca bagged a lot of awards under her belt. She won China Grand Prix Kart Scholarship four times and thrice in the Macao International Kart Grand Prix. She marked another milestone as she qualified for the 2015 SKUSA SuperNationals. In her first attempt, she finished in fourth place out of 91 participants! She was also named the Asian Karter of the Year.

The Dark Horse

Bianca is also known for her moniker “The Dark Horse” for being an underestimated athlete who rises above the challenges. Racer Darryl O’Young, Bianca’s manager, shares that she is the embodiment of the Dark Horse. “A happy and unassuming teenager off the track, but once that helmet goes on…you better watch out!”  his statement on Bianca’s website read.

And on May 6, 2023, Bianca made the whole country proud as she celebrated her first career victory. Bianca’s win is the fruit of her tenacity and grit. In her Instagram post, she shared that she turned emotional after hearing the Philippines’ national anthem in the motorsport scene.

Photo | Bianca Bustamante Website

As Bianca continues to break barriers in her fast and furious racing career, she also serves as an inspiration that women, especially Filipinas, that they can compete in motorsport.

“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,” she said on the F1 Academy website.

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