Bianca Bustamante F1 Academy

Bianca Bustamante Snags First Podium Finish For McLaren With Miami Victory

Bianca Bustamante makes up for a doomed Race 1 to finish second in Race 2 of F1 Academy’s Miami Grand Prix. 

Only four races in, and Bianca Bustamante already has a podium finish for 2024. 

This, as the 19-year-old Filipina racer finished second in Race 2 of F1 Academy’s second round in the Miami International Autodrome on Monday (Philippine time), is also her first podium finish since joining the McLaren Driver Development Program.

Race 2 was a major recovery drive for Bustamante after Race 1 saw her P4 qualifying result spoiled. To recall, Bustamante was dropped to P16 in Race 1 following a failed start, while a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits reduced her seventh-placed finish to ninth. 

Heading into Race 2, Bustamante’s 1:59.122 lap time was solid enough to qualify her in second, putting her between pole sitter and Alpine Academy driver Abbi Pulling, and Mercedes Junior Dorianne Pin. 

This time around, Bianca Bustamante would manage to hold her spot down. Despite a late rally by Pin in the final three laps, the 19-year-old Filipina managed through the scare to secure her second-place spot.

“Just absolutely speechless. Such a high. An amazing weekend for the team [McLaren]! Our very first [F1 Academy] podium is finally a reality, mega thank you to [ART Grand Prix] for an amazing car. They were faultless this weekend, so much more to work and show for the rest of the season. Let’s keep growing,” Bustamante wrote on Instagram.

Overall, Bustamante finishes the Academy’s Miami Grand Prix with a 23-point haul, with 18 coming from her superb Race 2 drive. Given this, she now has 39 points for their 2024 season, good for fifth overall in the standings. 

The major points haul also inches Bianca Bustamante closer to Haas F1 junior Chloe Chambers, who sits fourth overall with 40 points. 

Pulling meanwhile remains clear of the pack with 99 points, having won three of the four races early into the season, including the Miami Grand Prix pair. In Race 2, the British driver finished 3.8 seconds clear of Bustamante. 

Double victory for McLaren

Regardless, McLaren has much to be proud of as the Miami race weekend concludes. Besides Bustamante’s recovery, the team also witnessed its F1 star Lando Norris finally win his first F1 Grand Prix after 110 race starts.

Norris was aided by a safety car midway into the race, alongside late struggles by frontrunner Max Verstappen in the final laps of the 57-lap race. Due to this, Norris was able to finish a clear 7.6 seconds ahead of the flying Dutchman. 

Banner Images from McLaren F1 and Bianca Bustamante on Instagram.

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