MANILA, Philippines – Filipino racing driver Bianca Bustamante has made history as the first female driver to join McLaren’s driver development program.
Bustamante, 18, will wear the British team’s iconic orange livery when racing for the ART Grand Prix in the 2024 F1 Academy season.
Thank you Papaya Family for this🥺
— Bianca Bustamante (@racerbia) October 18, 2023
“This is such a surreal moment in my career, signing with McLaren and ART Grand Prix goes way beyond anything I could have ever imagined growing up racing karts in the Philippines,” Bustamante said via F1’s official website.
“I still find it difficult to see my name next to McLaren without getting emotional, because the history and heritage associated with this team truly leaves me speechless,” she added.
The program, which has produced seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, among others, aims to help young, promising racers progress to the most prestigious tournaments in the motorsport world, including Formula 1.
In a video posted by McLaren, Bustamante expressed her excitement about joining the respected motorsport team.
“Every event I went to, F1, Formula E, IndyCar, I was always with McLaren. “I didn’t expect this opportunity to come along, that I would actually be part of the team,” she said. “I am so happy to be joining the Papaya Family.”
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 18, 2023
Bustamante made waves last May after taking her maiden F1 Academy race victory at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. She then claimed another career victory at Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza in July.