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Bianca Bustamante proud to raise flag after F1 Academy breakthrough

Beatrice Go

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Bianca Bustamante proud to raise flag after F1 Academy breakthrough

CHAMP. Bianca Bustamante celebrates her F1 Academy victory.


Teen racer Bianca Bustamante says it has been a ‘complete and true honor’ to represent the Philippines after capturing her first F1 Academy title

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino racing star Bianca Bustamante successfully carried the country’s colors to the world of motorsport when she won her first title in the inaugural F1 Academy season in Valencia, Spain last Saturday, May 6 (Sunday, May 7, Philippine time). 

The victory saw the national anthem being played in an F1 Academy race for the first time, which is a milestone for a country that rarely produces top-caliber motorsport athletes. 

“I know a lot of the drivers have never even heard of the Philippine anthem and have probably never even seen the flag,” said Bustamante, the lone Southeast Asian in F1’s first all-female single-seater racing championship for women. 

The 18-year-old Filipina from PREMA Racing dominated the race from pole to flag. 

Bustamante finished on top at 18 minutes and 49.969 seconds after fending off ART Grand Prix’s Lena Bühler, who trailed her by a narrow 0.741 seconds in the 11-lap race. 

According to Bustamante, the good safety car restart by her team was crucial to her victory which led her to sustain the lead in the last three laps. 

The Filipina secured PREMA’s third victory in the last five races, which is led by teammate Marta Garcia of Spain. 

After the W Series – an all-female single-seater racing championship using an F3 car which Bustamante was part of – was put to an abrupt end last year, the Filipina believes that signing with PREMA Racing was the turning point of her career. 

Italian team PREMA is a leading contender in junior single-seater racing that has produced big names in F1 such as Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly. 

“The last four months has been amazing and it’s crazy how much we’ve accomplished in a short amount of time, and [it’s even crazier] thinking how what else we can accomplish in the next coming months and years,” said Bustamante. 

“I’m in a good spot and they’re teaching me a lot and especially having Marta Garcia as my teammate, her study references and especially at a track that I’ve never been to before actually fast-tracked a lot my progress and thanks to her I was able to get the best reference for the weekend.” 

In the past year, Bustamante has grown a fan base from Southeast Asia as she represents women in a male-dominated sport in the region. The impact of her success continues to remind her of her purpose for the next generation. 

“I think the lack of representation of women and motorsport in Asia has always been one of the main causes why we don’t have a lot of Asian female racing drivers,” said Bustamante. 

“So to be representing on behalf of the Filipino people and Southeast Asia, it has been a complete and true honor of mine to be able to raise the flag and be proud of where I am from and how my countrymen are supporting and rallying behind me. It truly has been an amazing experience.” 

Bustamante’s next race will be held in Barcelona, Spain from May 19 to 21. 

The Filipina signed with Italian team PREMA Racing last February as F1 announced its first racing championship for women this 2023. – 

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Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.