Bustamante targets top 3 finish in Driver Standings for debut season
18-year-old looking to finish season strong with more race wins
Filipina focuses to end first full F1 Academy season on a high
18-year old Filipina racing driver Bianca Bustamante is halfway through her thrilling F1 Academy season as she gears up for Round 5 in Monza, Italy. Bustamante will be racing at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza from 7th to 9th July, which holds a special significance for the Italian team as she prepares to compete on PREMA Racing’s home soil. Following the first four rounds, Bustamante now holds P8 in the Driver Standings, just 15 points adrift of the top-5. The Pinay teen is looking to end her first full season in the all-women F1 feeder series on a high as she aims to maximize her learning as the series concludes in October as a support race to the Formula 1 Lenovo United States Grand Prix in Austin. The #16 PREMA driver kicked off her season with an impressive performance, securing P2 at the season opener in Red Bull Ring at Spielberg, Austria. She demonstrated remarkable defensive skills during her F1 Academy debut, displaying an exceptional level of composure beyond her years. However, her weekend at the Austrian hills was not without its challenges. In race 2, she finished P9 after being pushed off the track, just outside the points-paying positions. Furthermore, Bustamante’s hopes of starting race 3 in the front row were dashed after facing a technical issue, preventing her from taking crucial points. Despite these setbacks, Bustamante remained optimistic, acknowledging that the experience taught her valuable lessons. Round 2 of F1 Academy took place at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, a track that Bustamante had never previously raced on. Despite the lack of on-track experience, Bustamante approached the weekend with a positive attitude after having spent ample time on the PREMA Racing simulator prior to the races to learn and familiarize herself with the course. Bustamante’s exceptional racecraft was evident in race 1 as she skillfully fought her way through the field, finishing in P5 and earning 10 points. In race 2, Bustamante started from pole position as a result of reverse grid procedure, managing to make a swift start and was able to maintain her lead until the end of the race despite facing attacks near the finish line. Her phenomenal performance in race 2 led to Bustamante achieving her first career formula car victory, also becoming the first Filipina driver to win an FIA sanctioned single seater race. The current season in the F1 Academy has been a tale of ups and downs for Bustamante. She showcased her racing prowess by delivering two outstanding race weekends in Spielberg and Valencia. However, the subsequent rounds in Barcelona and Zandvoort presented her with various obstacles to overcome. Although she had a promising start at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, finishing P4 in race 1, Bustamante experienced setbacks in the following races. She encountered a difficult start in race 2, stalling and subsequently dropping to the back of the grid. Furthermore, contact with another car in the second to last lap ended with her spinning around, leading to a collision with her teammate. The crash also resulted in tire damage, which meant she had to use old tires in race 3 which ultimately affected her performance, finishing in P10 with a single championship point. Bustamante tackled her first time racing at the Zandvoort Circuit with determination, despite facing a challenging start due to the difficulty posed by the banked corner in turn 3. Nevertheless, her grit and perseverance shone through as she improved her pace significantly over the course of the weekend. Her hard work paid off in race 3, where she showcased her skills and climbed back to an impressive P5, setting the 4th quickest time in the process. The 18 year old has been taking big steps forward in her career this year, while constantly learning and growing. As the series enters the final three rounds, Bustamante remains determined to end on a high note with a primary objective of securing a top 3 finish in the drivers' championship, score more race wins, and also make significant contributions to PREMA's pursuit of the team championship. The tenacious Filipina aims to improve in her performance and achieve her goals both on and off the race track.
Bianca Bustamante | Race Driver, PREMA
“What an exhilarating ride it's been so far! The first half of the F1 Academy series has honestly been an emotional rollercoaster. With only three races to go in the series, I'm determined more than ever to secure a top spot in the standings before the season ends. I firmly believe that hard work is the key to success, and I’m ready to put in the effort required to reach my goals. Despite being overcome with challenges in the last two race weekends, I want to keep my focus on growth and take steps forward. Now armed with the lessons I've learned, I look forward to putting them into practice starting this weekend at Monza.”