Philippine racer Bianca Bustamante is the new recruit in McLaren driver development programme as she will also represent them in F1 Academy.

Having announced about Gabriel Bortoleto joining the McLaren driver development programe recently, the team has added upcoming Philippine racer Bustamante in its programme as was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The 18-year-old has competed recently in W Series, Formula 4 UAE, Italian Formula 4, USF Juniors and currently races in the F1 Academy. The race winner will continue in the same championship in 2024 where she will represent McLaren with Cisco’s support.

She will use the McLaren livery while racing for ART Grand Prix. “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,” said 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! A big thanks goes to Susie Wolff and the team at F1 Academy for fighting so hard for us girls and to give us this opportunity to be the best we can be. Additional thanks go to Zak Brown, Andrea Stella, Emanuele Pirro, Sebastian Philippe, my sponsors, and all my supporters for believing in me and making this all possible. I am full of gratitude, and I promise to give it my all.”

McLaren driver programme’s head Emanuele Pirro stated: “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.”

McLaren F1 team boss Andrea Stella also welcomed Bustamante in their growing line-up. “The team are delighted for Bianca to join us, and for McLaren to be involved in F1 Academy,” he said. “It’s a core principle of ours to be a diverse and inclusive team, so we’re pleased to be so involved in Formula 1’s work on the important topic of improving gender diversity within motorsport.

“We also look forward to seeing Bianca grow and progress within the McLaren Racing Driver Development programme under Emanuele’s guidance.” At the same time Cisco’s Carrie Palin added: “We are always looking to align our brand with programs that foster greater diversity and align to Cisco’s purpose to power an inclusive future for all.

“The McLaren F1 Academy program was a natural opportunity for us to expand on our partnership with McLaren Racing, and support Bianca as she strives to pave new opportunities for women in motorsports. We will be cheering her on as she takes to the track and have no doubt that she will be an inspiration to many around the world.”

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