With 6 races down and 4 more to go this year, young Filipina driver Bianca Bustamante has been giving her all to prove that she is a rookie worth watching out for in the W Series. Bianca, who’s only 17 years old, managed to surprise all when she bagged her first points in the championship on the first racing day in the Miami International Autodrome after starting from P17 and finishing in P9—an impressive feat on an unfamiliar track and a non-conventional street circuit format.
Bianca particularly shines for her great reaction time and ability to make incredible launches when lights go out at the starting line, jumping several positions ahead in the first lap despite starting at the back of the grid. However, it hasn’t been an easy journey since her stunning debut. The Pinay rookie has struggled to maintain pace during the races and has been battling to overcome the disadvantage of driving a formula car for the first time and lacking extensive racing experience compared to many of her competitors.
Photo from W Series
“It’s been really tough, it’s been a tough first year. We’re learning so much. I got to experience a lot of things,” she told When In Manila in an interview at the TikTok Awards Philippines 2022 last August 13 at the New Frontier Theater, after coming home to the Philippines to take a break following a back-to-back race weekend in France and Hungary.
And a break is definitely needed, knowing how tirelessly she has been working throughout the season to improve her racecraft through training, simulator sessions, coaching, and more testing.
“We’re putting in a lot of work pre-season and now mid-season. [I’m] back in the Philippines for a few weeks just so I can refresh and reset. And then after that, we’re headed to Malaysia for some testing so hopefully, we’ll be ready by Singapore [Grand Prix] and ready to get those points,” she said.
Despite the struggles, Bianca has enjoyed her first year racing for the W Series Academy Team and feels nothing but gratitude for this amazing opportunity she’s been given that has transformed her from a teenage karter to a professional Formula 3 driver in just a span of 6 months.
“I would say [that the most memorable experience I’ve had so far this season is] of course being able to race all over the world and, aside from that, meeting Lewis Hamilton is definitely one of them. I got to meet my idol! Growing up, I’ve always looked up to him so meeting him in person was amazing.”
When asked what meeting seven-time Formula 1 world champion Hamilton was like, Bianca gushed: “He’s a dream boy, he really is! He’s a seven-time world champion. Meeting someone as well dedicated and hardworking definitely inspires me, being a junior driver in formula cars, so it’s nice and I got to exchange conversations with him. Just glad I get to experience all those things.”
Photo from W Series
Bianca bagged a two-year scholarship with the W Series Academy Team after showing incredible speed at the pre-season tests. Prior to this, she has won multiple karting championships across Asia, such as the Macau International Kart GP (3-time champion), Junior Asian Karting Open Championship (2-time overall champion), and the China Grand Prix Kart Scholarship (4-time winner). She was also named the Philippines National Junior Karter of the Year in 2018 and the Philippines Driver of the Year – Karting from 2018 to 2020. She also got to race in the world-famous Circuit Paul Ricard in Marseilles, France as part of the Girls on Track Rising Stars program last October 2021.
(ALSO READ: Meet Bianca Bustamante: The First Filipina Driver to Race in the W Series)
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