Updated: Jan 17
Race driver Bianca Bustamante, the rising star from the Philippines, travelled to France to take part in the FIA Girls on Track - Rising Stars Shootout over the last weekend. She went head-to-head against 14 of the best young female racing talents from across the globe in a series of skill and driving tests. The 16-year old was however faced with heartbreak after missing out on a spot to advance to the next stage in Italy where a driver will be selected to join the Ferrari Driver Academy.
The FIA Girls on Track - Rising Stars programme is an initiative undertaken by FIA Women in Motorsport to give young female drivers a platform to excel and make it to the top ranks of formula racing. Bianca was invited to test her skills against other senior karters after being selected from a pool of over 70 drivers at the historic Paul Ricard Circuit. Over the weekend, she had the opportunity to attend workshops prepared by the internationally renowned driver performance center, 321 Perform.
On Friday and Saturday, Bianca received training and invaluable insights at the Winfield Racing School, which has produced some of the greatest motorsport talents in the history of the sport. As part of the Academy’s strategy to develop the driver as a whole package, she learned more about mental, physical and nutritional development. The skills were put to the test in a series of gruelling assessments as part of the selection process. She took the tests in stride and fared exceptionally well, receiving positive feedback from the coaches.
With judges from prestigious partners like the Ferrari Driving Academy constantly scrutinizing the performance from every participant, the girls were under extreme pressure throughout the event. Unfortunately, after nearly 2 years of not having on-track competition due to the pandemic, Bianca struggled to optimize her pace within the testing time allocated, and did not deliver a strong performance straight out of the box. On top of that, she faced a new type of race engine as well as a soft tyre compound, never truly getting comfortable in the Praga kart. Ultimately, she was not selected by the FIA to continue with the shootout.
For Bianca, this weekend was a monumental step towards her racing career. Being the sole Asian driver selected, she was grateful to have the opportunity to visit Le Castellet for this event. She received exceptional tips on the importance of physiological welfare in the sport and holistic development. Having trained alongside some of the best in the sport, she is eagerly looking forward to her future endeavours.
“Naturally, I am very disappointed for not achieving ultimate success but I am forever grateful to the FIA for the opportunity to participate in this shootout. There are so many positives and learnings that I will take with me as I continue my racing career. I learned how to optimize my driving and of course how to adapt to the given condition. But seeing everything that happened, I’ll focus the most on gaining more experience and physical training. What I will treasure the most are the friendships I’ve made during my time here. My fellow racing girls are talented, fast and all deserving of motorsport success, so I wish them the very best! The road to F1 is long and I am very confident that I will see them again in the near future - and hopefully compete alongside them.”