The last two years have been a whirlwind for Bianca Bustamante. Find out what it took for her to finally achieve her first career victory.
When you hear your national anthem being played for the first time at a major international sports event, you know that something truly special has taken place. Bianca Bustamante is one of the few Filipino race car drivers who can attest to this.
On Saturday, May 6, Bianca Bustamante bagged her first win, becoming the first-ever Filipino woman to win a race in the Formula 1 Academy, after capturing her first career victory in Valencia, Spain. This first win came off the heels of her first podium finish in Austria, which she claimed just last weekend in F1 Academy’s debut race.
But, even though she is off to a strong start with a string of impressive and impactful results, her recent successes are a product of all the races, results, and struggles that didn’t make the headlines. In fact, Bianca once told The GAME herself, “Loving the sport doesn’t just mean loving driving. It means everything that comes with it — the struggle, the difficulties, the disadvantages, and the hard work I had to put in.”
So, let’s recount the results that led Bianca Bustamante to her first win in formula racing.
Like most other racers, Bianca Bustamante started out in the karts as a young girl, where she easily proved her speed as a driver.
Even in a male-dominated sport, her results spoke for themselves. She won multiple trophies and titles locally and internationally, most notably, the China Grand Prix Kart Scholarship, which she won four times, and the highly-esteemed Macao International Kart Grand Prix, which she won thrice. She also competed in many other popular international competitions, such as the SKUSA SuperNationals, where she qualified fourth out of 91 in 2015.
With her early successes, she was named Philippines Driver of the Year for karting three years in a row, from 2018 to 2020, and also won Philippines National Senior Karter of the Year twice, in 2019 and 2020.
Gaining recognition internationally, Bianca Bustamante got her first opportunity to drive a formula car in 2022, when she signed with the IGY6 Motorsports team to compete in the USF Juniors Championship, a development racing program based in the United States.
The Filipina compete in the first four races in the inaugural USF Juniors season. Given that this was her first taste of competitive formula racing, she impressively cracked into the top 10 of her second race in the Ozarks International Raceway, which was her best finish in the series.
In four races, she garnered a total of 32 points.
Early in 2022, Bianca Bustamante participated in testing sessions for the W Series, an all-female single-seater racing category. After successful test runs, it was confirmed in March 2022 that the youngster was set to compete in the 2022 season for the W Series Academy.
Bianca opened her stint in the racing series already hitting a career milestone: scoring her first points after crossing the line in ninth in the W Series Miami Round. Following this, however, she struggled to crack into the top 10 again, finishing between 14th to 17th in the remaining races, and suffering a retirement in her sixth race. Thus, she ended her run with two points to her name.
Indian Racing League
After she concluded her run at the W Series, Bianca announced that she was going to be racing in the 2022 Indian Racing League with the Bangalore Speedsters.
Here, her performances on the track managed to unlock new career milestones, scoring her first two podiums of her career after finishing in third place across two races in the individual and partnered categories. However, due to technical issues and a jumpstart, these podium finishes were unfortunately taken away from Bianca and her team.
Still, her results stayed consistent, finishing in the middle of the top 10 in the opening two rounds of the racing series. With her performances, she finished with a total of 46 points, landing her in 17th in the drivers’ standings.
Formula 4 UAE Championship
She kicked off 2023 again making headlines when she announced that she would be racing with the Italian motorsports team, Prema Racing, for the 2023 Formula 4 UAE Championship.
Throughout the series, Bianca Bustamante continued searching for her first win, though her early results saw her outside of the top 19 and retiring from two races.
But, she eventually found her breakthrough in Kuwait Motortown, where she finally scored her first points by finishing in the top 10. She followed this with another points-finish in the Dubai Autodrome, where The GAME even got the chance to catch up with the Filipina motorsports star. She ended with three points to add to her career total and finished in 27th.
Before Bianca Bustamante signed with Prema Racing to join the F1 Academy, her successes were few and far in between. After all, most racers will tell you that the transition from karting to formula racing comes with a steep learning curve. But, all in all, it certainly seems that the Filipina on the international racing scene is finding her grip on the track.
In the opening race weekend of the F1 Academy, Bianca hit the ground running, bagging her first-ever podium finish, crossing the line in second at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Already, this was a huge moment for the Filipina. But, it only made her crave more.
The following race weekend, she went one huge step up — Bianca Bustamante finally earned her first win, taking the top spot after finishing first in Valencia, Spain on Saturday, May 6.
“The anthem was played, we raised the flag. We Won!!” Bianca wrote on her social media post to celebrate her first career victory.
With her recent string of results in the F1 Academy, as of writing, Bianca currently sits in sixth on the drivers’ standings with 44 points. And now holding her first win with five more rounds in the series left on the calendar and with an entire country rooting for her, there is a lot more for Bianca to achieve.
Banner image from F1 Academy on Instagram.