Milestone weekend for Bianca Bustamante in Valencia with maiden career victory
© F1 Academy
Filipina teen shines to take top step of podium at F1 Academy Round 2
Pole to flag victory in Race 2 despite mounting pressure from chasing pack
Bustamante holds down P6 in Driver Standings after big points haul in Valencia, Spain
Round 2 of the 2023 F1 Academy series is one that will remain etched in the hearts of not only Filipina racing driver Bianca Bustamante, but all of the motorsport fans in the Philippines. It was an emotional moment for the 18-year-old as Lupang Hinirang, the Philippine national anthem, was played for the very first time in her professional career during the podium ceremony at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain after securing a maiden victory in Race 2 on Saturday. The #16 PREMA Racing driver had a brilliant weekend in Valencia, which kicked off with impressive performances in both Free Practice sessions. Bustamante continued this run into Qualifying where she set faster laptimes each time around the 4km Grand Prix circuit. Despite setting P2 and P5 on-track for both race grid-setting sessions respectively, Bustamante, along with multiple other drivers were hit with post-session laptime deletions due to track limit infringements. As a result, Bustamante was classified P8 in Q1, which meant pole position for the reverse grid Race 2 and P13 in Q2. It was clear that the young Filipina had the pace to challenge the top runners, which she showcased by making overtakes and putting herself up to P5 by the end of Race 1. Brimming with nervous confidence, Bustamante lined up in pole position for Race 2 with the goal to have a clean start and put herself in the driving seat to dictate the pace of the pack. As was characteristic of her even in 2022, the young driver demonstrated her ability to get off the line quickly and led the race for the first time in her professional career right from Turn 1 on the first lap. With clean air ahead of her, Bustamante looked right at home, driving in a cool and composed manner despite immense pressure from chasing competitors. She managed to hold off the late attack with some inspired defensive driving and eventually took the chequered flag to become an F1 Academy race winner. Starting all the way down in P13 for Race 3, Bustamante was looking to maximise her position at the final point-scoring opportunity of the weekend. Once again the young Asian driver displayed her ability to remain competitive and made up 6 positions over the course of 17 laps while remaining out of trouble in an action-packed race. She took a hard-fought P7 finish along with 6 valuable points, taking her total points tally from the weekend to 26. For Bustamante, this weekend further solidified her footing in the series. Tears of joy streamed down her face seeing the Philippine national flag featured on the podium as she was presented with the winner's trophy. Thousands of Filipino fans and supporters poured their wishes and hearty congratulations on social media, filled with pride watching one of their own carrying the flag on the international stage. She currently sits in P6 of the Drivers Standings as a result of a stellar weekend, with PREMA Racing comfortably on the top of the Teams Standings. Bustamante has established herself as one of the championship contenders, improving each time out in her F1 Academy car. She managed to hold her own despite the setbacks from post-qualifying lap deletions to take a major points haul and continue her strong momentum in the highly competitive inaugural season of the all-female racing series. She will be looking to extend her string of strong performances as the series heads to Barcelona for Round 3, which is scheduled to be held from 19 to 21 May. For more information and updates on the upcoming F1 Academy races, please refer to the official F1 Academy website.
Bianca Bustamante | Race Driver, PREMA
“What a weekend! We were on the backfoot after we learned about the laptimes being deleted from Qualifying but the mentality of the entire team was to bounce back harder and that’s exactly what we did. Race 1 gave me a lot of confidence knowing I had the pace and ability to make overtakes. Starting on pole for Race 2, I was really feeling the nerves, knowing there were a lot of fast drivers behind me. However, we had a great getaway from the line and the team gave me an amazing car to take home my first ever career win! I am extremely delighted with my performance in Race 3 as well, knowing where we started on the grid. Valencia is bound to remain a special circuit in my heart. Full focus on the next weekend as we aim to challenge for the win regularly in the upcoming rounds.”