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Bianca Bustamante The GAME Feature

All Around The World: How Bianca Bustamante Spent Her Off-Season

From Asia to Europe, Bianca Bustamante has spent her off-season months jet-setting around the world.

The last few months have been a whirlwind for Bianca Bustamante. After concluding her debut season in F1 Academy, she has been traveling all over the world — from Abu Dhabi to Manila, from Manila to London, from London to Paris — enjoying her time off from racing. But her travels have been about more than just vacationing and winding down.

With a huge year ahead of her as the first female racer of the McLaren Driver Development Program and racing with a new team, ART Grand Prix, she has been on the move, preparing for a long and demanding season.

So before it all kicks off, here’s a recap of how Bianca spent her off-season months.

Just cruising
Bianca Bustamante MSC Cruises to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)
Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)

Right after concluding a high-speed F1 Academy season, Bianca finally got to enjoy a slower pace — a cruising pace, to be exact.

The Filipina racer got to enjoy a full-on cruise trip to the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which she now calls a “core memory.” Bianca shared that growing up, she would always book the cheapest accommodations whenever she would travel for her races. With this, to enjoy a race weekend to its fullest and get to experience this kind of travel has been “mind-blowing.”

This was definitely a well-deserved treat for a racer who notched her first formula racing victories and became the first female driver in the McLaren Driver Development Program.

Holidays at home
Bianca Bustamante in the Philippines
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)

After spending an entire year traveling from country to country, Bianca was so happy to be back home in the Philippines to spend the holiday season with her family. “It’s great, everyone’s just a knock away,” she told The GAME last December.

“It’s nice to have breakfast with someone, to hear other people talking. When you’re just in the hotel room by yourself all the time, you’re surrounded by darkness and it’s quiet and you kind of just have yourself.”

And even back to her familiar roots, as a natural explorer, she managed to find a way to experience something new during her trip. Taking a trip to Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Bianca shared on her Instagram, “Pure joy to be able to explore my country even more, experiencing all the things I couldn’t do as a kid cos I was too determined to make it in my sport.”

Home away from home
Bianca Bustamante in London
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)
McLaren Headquarters in the United Kingdom
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)

Not long after the holidays, Bianca was off to another adventure — this time, to her new home. In January this year, the Filipina racing phenom made a big move to the United Kingdom, the home base of her new team, McLaren. And already, she feels at home despite being thousands of miles away from the Philippines.

“I’m loving every moment of it. I think London is the type of place you go to during that pivotal time in your life when you’re young, you’re experiencing things, you’re traveling, and meeting new people. The city is so alive and I love that I’ve found a home away from home,” she shared in a recent press conference.

“McLaren has really been nothing but family to me so the fact that I’m living so close to them and I get to go there whenever I want somewhere to hang, or I need to train, or I need to be on the sim, and just kind of being connected to motorsport and at the same time, still have a life outside of it and experience new things — it’s quite an experience.”

Turning 19
Bianca Bustamante celebrating her 19th birthday with ART Grand Prix in France
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)

Despite moving to a beautiful new city with countless tourist spots, the move was still all about work for Bianca. “Funnily, I moved to the UK, but I’ve practically been here just two weeks in total, and that was just to do laundry or go to work at McLaren on the other side, so I’ve barely been home, to be honest.”

The hustle hasn’t stopped. In fact, Bianca spent her 19th birthday with her new team, ART Grand Prix, in France to attend the team’s grand opening, do her final seat fit for her car, and run test sessions.

“Paris, I would say, is definitely my second home. I spent a lot of time there on the sim, training with ART, and it’s incredible, that I’m actually based in Europe now and I get to travel so much.”

Back to work
Bianca Bustamante in the 2024 Formula Winter Series
(Photo credit: Bianca Bustamante on Instagram)

It wasn’t long before Bianca was back on the track to race. To kick off her 2024 season, she competed in the Formula Winter Series in preparation for the upcoming F1 Academy season. However, she was unable to get the results she was aiming for.

The 19-year-old faced engine issues with her car and thus, struggled to get up to speed and also suffered a DNF in the second race of the weekend. However, she still maximized the experience, using it to fuel her growth as a driver.

“We got into the Winter Series and things weren’t in our favor,” she admitted. “We had some technical issues with the car, it was a long battle…But one thing I’m proud of is that until the end, I went down swinging. In the last race, we showed somewhat of a result that was quite representative of our pace. From p22 we got up to 17.

“What I learned the most is that all of it is personal — all the personal battles that no one else knows but me and how I overcome them. I’m really proud of it.”

It has indeed been a productive off-season for Bianca Bustamante, and now that it has come to an end, we will be seeing more of the rising star as she takes on her second season in the F1 Academy.

Images from Bianca Bustamante on Instagram.

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