Bianca Bustamante reaches halfway mark in W Series rookie season
6-month transformation from teenage karter to professional F3 driver
17-year-old Filipina satisfied with career start but wants more in second half
Singapore F1 Grand Prix marks Bustamante’s professional debut in Asia
2022 has been a monumental year for 17-year-old Filipina racing driver Bianca Bustamante. Having started the year with no racing opportunities, she has transformed herself to become one of the most exciting up-and-coming prospects in Asian motorsport - all within the span of 6 months. Showing incredible speed at the pre-season tests, she landed herself a 2-year scholarship to race in W Series. Since then, she has started her rookie year in the W Series Academy Team; pushed through intense physical training to develop the required strength to drive a Formula 3 car; went through extensive media training; and completed 8 race weekends across USA and Europe. It has been an incredible season to date, pushing the boundaries for the young Filipino teenager as she takes this massive step in her career. Off to a good start The season kicked off in Miami, with Race 1 becoming one of the highlights of Bustamante’s career, scoring her first championship points in her debut W Series race. With everyone racing on an unfamiliar track and a non-conventional street circuit format, she was able to deliver a strong race pace and finished in a solid P9, despite starting in P17. One area where Bustamante shines is her ability to get incredible launches and get off the line quickly at the race start. This was evident throughout the European leg of the championship, where despite starting towards the back of the grid, she was able to jump several positions in the first lap. It comes down to reaction time and her natural ability to get off the mark, which has proven extremely beneficial. Rookie Struggles Bustamante, however, has struggled to maintain pace during the races, which has seen her drop back from fighting positions. Working alongside a dedicated team of engineers, she has identified her shortcomings. With this only being her first year in a formula car, there are a lot of things to learn about driveability. Bustamante has shown that she is able to extract the maximum pace out of the car once she is able to do several laps; however, this is limited by the 30-minute sessions that W Series holds at each Grand Prix, not allowing her to get fully comfortable around the track and show her ultimate pace. One aspect that she is working on involves her timing on braking and accelerating through corners to maintain momentum and not lose time. This is a critical component of her preparation, as unlike many of her competitors, Bianca lacks extensive racing experience whilst learning on circuits that she has not driven in before. Looking Ahead It is a steep learning curve for an absolute rookie like Bustamante to get up to speed in a short amount of time. She has been working tirelessly to improve her racecraft through training, simulator sessions, coaching and more testing. Bustamante recently completed the first double-header of her season with back-to-back race weekends in France and Hungary, also concluding the European leg of the championship. Currently, she is back in the Philippines for a short break, and begin preparations for the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix, before the championship heads to North America. This will be a significant race for Bustamante, being close to home and finally getting the opportunity to race in a Formula car in Asia.
Bianca Bustamante | Driver, #9 of W Series Academy Team
“We’re officially past the mid-season point of my first W Series season. I still can't believe it as it's really been such a whirlwind since confirming my race seat. I still pinch myself sometimes because, in January, I was still wondering if I will ever race a car. My team and I have worked so hard to get here, and our motivation grows stronger by the day as we are making progress toward our goals for the year. This season has had its fair share of ups and downs, but I have learned so much every step of the way. From scoring my first points in Miami, to crashing out in Hungary, its all part of my journey and I feel nothing but gratitude for the support from everyone at W Series, my parents, my partners, my coach, my manager, The Dark Horse community, and everyone that believes in me. Obviously, there is a long way to go and honestly, I can't believe the last 6 months have gone by in a flash. Lastly, I am jumping with excitement to race at the Singapore GP, Asia is where I'm from so to come back and compete here will surely be the highlight of my year"