Only two women have ever raced in the F1 — I’m determined to become the next

Bianca getting ready to race

F1 Academy driver Bianca Bustamante (Picture: PHL, ART Grand Prix)

Formula One used to be a boys club, but times are changing.

Women now make up 40% of F1 viewers compared to just 7% in 2017. The smash hit Netflix show, Drive To Survive (and the resulting social media debriefs) can certainly take some credit for this – but the purchase of F1 by Liberty Media in 2017 has also change the sport’s fanbase.

The company paid a reported $8billion for F1, and, according to Forbes, did so with the intent of attracting new fans, particularly young women.

In 2023, they launched the F1 Academy, a global initiative ‘committed to driving change through increasing female participation and talent in motorsport.’

And 19-year-old Bianca Bustamante is one of the F1 Academy drivers. She’s proved to be such a talent, that she’s become the first woman ever to be accepted into the McLaren Driver Development Programme – which aims to spot and mould future McLaren F1 drivers.

Bianca’s success in the world of motor sports is made even sweeter by the fact that she been a fan of the sport since before she could talk.

She inherited her love of racing from her dad who karted, and often spent time with him at tracks.

Bianca got her first race suit at the tender age of one (Picture: PHL, ART Grand Prix)

‘I was given my own racing suit when I was one-year-old and my own car at the age of three,’ she tells

‘Driving that is one of my core memories. It was a baby car that I would drive around the track – I’d beg my dad to take me to the track very day.

‘Even though I came from Philippines, which is a country not really known for motorsport, I was introduced to it at a very young age, which made it very memorable.’

Aged six, Bustamante told her parents that she wanted to take motor sports seriously and become a professional driver.

‘I knew that we didn’t have much money at all,’ she says. ‘My dad was working two jobs in America and my brother had heart problems so we were struggling with medical bills. We were barely eating three times a day. It was a really tough moment for us because it was either risk everything or drill down studying something mundane to make good money.

‘Obviously, my parents saw the passion and they supported that and they really believed in me. Anything I do is not just my success, it’s my parents.’

As a trailblazer in the sport, Bianca wants to create more opportunities for others. ‘To be the first woman to do this in 2024 speaks volumes,’ she says. ‘But to be on the frontline of the sport evolving, and hopefully be the first of many, is the goal.

‘I want to open doors for a lot of young talent that come from less fortunate backgrounds. I …read more

Source:: Metro


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