McLaren has enrolled F1 Academy teenage racer Bianca Bustamante into its Driver Development programme, while the young Filipino will also represent team papaya in the all-female series in 2024.
Bustamante’s credentials include multiple karting championships across Asia, participations in W Series, Formula 4 UAE Championship, Italian Formula 4, USF Juniors and most recently in the 2023 F1 Academy season.
The 18-year-old has two wins and two podiums to her name this season ahead of the feeder series’ season finale in Austin next weekend.
At McLaren, Bustamante will work with former F1 driver Emanuele Pirro who manages the Woking-based outfit’s Driver Development programme that aims to help young talent progress through the ranks and towards Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
"This is such an unreal moment in my career, to sign with McLaren and ART Grand Prix is way beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined growing up racing karts in the Philippines,” commented Bustamante.
“I still have a hard time seeing my name next to McLaren without getting emotional, as the history and heritage linked to this team leaves me truly speechless.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity as I believe I now have the best possible development structure around me to take the next step up in my career, and for this I am so thankful.
“2023 was all about improving my speed which I demonstrated across several races this year, but in 2024 my aim is to establish consistency and improve my mental strength in order to make a title challenge in the coming F1 Academy season.
“For now, my focus is to finish off the F1 Academy season strongly here in Austin, but we’ll get to work immediately on the 2024 season. I've never been more motivated in my life!”
McLaren Driver Development programme director Emanueule Pirro said:
“I’m pleased that Bianca is joining our Driver Development programme. She’s a promising young talent who has a brilliant work ethic and is aligned closely to our team’s values.
“I look forward to working with Bianca on her development as a racing driver. We’re also excited for Bianca to be representing the team in the F1 Academy series and we look forward to seeing her race in papaya in 2024.”