Bianca Bustamante, 18, has become the first Filipino to win a Formula 1 Academy race.
On May 6 in Valencia, Spain, Bustamante made her historic win in the new all-female racing series. Describing the win as “exhilarating,” the young motorsport star shared how becoming the “only Filipina to win an FIA-sanctioned race” was a “great honor” in her personal essay for Insider.
“Hearing the Philippine national anthem – which hasn’t been played in motorsports for a very long time – was an emotional moment for me,” she shared. “I’m representing my Philippines and breaking barriers, and my parents are cheering for me from the sidelines.”
“The further I go, the further my country goes,” Bustamante stated.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Bustamante was first introduced to racing through her dad.
While her father had to give up his kart driving dreams due to financial difficulties, he made sure to introduce Bustamante to the world of racing. By the time Bustamante was 3 years old, she was driving a kart.
“I could barely walk, could barely say my name, and I already had a steering wheel in my hands,” she revealed. “I remember the smile I had on my face.”
Despite financial and gender obstacles, Bustamante began competing in local and international karting competitions at 5 years old. With her father’s support, the racer quickly gathered wins across Asia, the United States and Australia.
Some of Bustamante’s most significant achievements include securing the China Grand Prix Kart Scholarship, winning the Macao International Kart Grand Prix and placing fourth in the 2015 SKUSA SuperNationals.
“Anything I was given in life, it wasn’t on a silver platter,” Bustamante shared. “I had to work twice as hard for it.”
As shared on her website, Bustamante’s goal is to “one day show the world Asian drivers can compete on the global stage, and also disrupt motorsport by demonstrating women can win at the top levels of a male dominated sport.”
Launched in November 2022, F1 Academy by Formula 1 helps female drivers to develop their skills and compete.
F1 Academy is expected to allow female drivers opportunities that will allow them to progress to Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 1, Sky Sports reports.
Bustamante is currently in team PREMA Racing and drives car number 16. Out of the 15 drivers participating in F1 Academy, Bustamante is currently placed seventh at the time of this writing.