McLaren confirm first female driver in development programme

All 10 Formula 1 teams will be represented in F1 Academy next season by at least one driver

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Thursday 19 October 2023 10:05 BST
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McLaren have announced 18-year-old Bianca Bustamente as the first ever female driver in their development programme.

The Filipino teenager will drive with McLaren’s livery in F1 Academy next year, with all 10 F1 teams being represented by at least one driver in 2024.

Bustamente is currently seventh in the Academy’s inaugural season standings, having recorded two wins and two podiums this year, ahead of the season finale this weekend in Austin, Texas.

She has won numerous karting championships in Asia and has previously competed in W Series, Formula 4 UAE Championship and Italian Formula 4.

"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.”

The likes of seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and current McLaren driver Lando Norris have come through the team’s illustrious junior ranks.

Bianca Bustamente has joined McLaren’s driver development programme (McLaren )

"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,” Bustamente added.

"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 [F1 Academy managing director] 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."

Spanish driver Marta Garcia is set to wrap up the F1 Academy title at the US Grand Prix – she has a 48-point lead ahead of this weekend’s three races.

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