Bianca Bustamante joins McLaren Driver Development programme

BY Sean Loo

Prepare to meet the newest sensation in the world of racing.

Bianca Bustamante, a name that's set to redefine the racetracks, is revving up for an extraordinary journey in the 2024 F1 Academy season. She's not just any driver; she's the first lady to enroll in the hallowed halls of the McLaren Driver Development program.

Bustamante is a young racing prodigy from the Philippines who is ready to conquer her second year in the all-women junior formula category. Now, she'll be wearing the proud colours of McLaren Racing, sporting that iconic "Papaya" team livery. So, not only is she setting new records as a female driver, but she's doing it with the class and panache of the McLaren legacy.

McLaren, the name itself, is synonymous with excellence, and their Driver Development program is no different. They don't just groom racers; they forge legends. With mentors like former McLaren test driver, Formula 1 driver, and Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro, by her side, Bustamante's journey is destined for greatness.

Now, let's talk about 2023 – Bustamante's breakout year. She joined the F1 Academy with PREMA Racing and shook things up. Imagine stepping onto the Red Bull Ring in Austria and claiming a P3 finish right out of the gate (later bumped to P2 thanks to a rival's tech hiccup).

Her meteoric rise continued as she seized victory at the Sprint Race of Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, and then triumphed in her first Feature Race in Monza. Her journey culminates this weekend in Austin, Texas, at the iconic Circuit of The Americas, where she's got her sights set on the top-5 driver standings.

But it's not just about Bustamante; it's also about McLaren Racing's commitment to nurturing the stars of tomorrow. Twenty per cent of the current Formula 1 grid got their start with this legendary team. Think Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris; they began their journey with McLaren.

As motorsport evolves, McLaren keeps pace. They believe in diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities for women in racing. And they're putting action behind their words. The iconic multinational tech company Cisco joins hands with McLaren as the Official Primary Partner, reinforcing their commitment to supporting women in STEM through the 60 Scholars initiative. This is a team that's not just about racing; it's about shaping the future.

And remember, every legend has a patron, a supporter who believes in their dream. For Bustamante, it's Lance East Exotics, the brainchild of Laurence Escalante, a successful gaming and tech entrepreneur. His unwavering belief in Bustamante's global representation of the Philippines is unwavering.

So, you'll see the Lance East Exotics brand on Bustamante's F1 Academy car throughout the 2024 season.