At only her second year in race cars, Bianca Bustamante joins Prema Racing for the new all-female championship F1 Academy - aiming for continuity after remarkable progress in the F4 UAE season with the Italian team.
At her second year in single seaters, Bianca Bustamante will enter the new F1 Academy championship with Prema Racing, after having already contested the F4 UAE championship with the Italian top team with the aim of preparing for the upcoming season. The Filipina racer makes the switch from W Series to F1 Academy and tackles her first season in F4 machinery, having made the transition from karting to formulas in 2022 with the Tatuus T-318. “I am so excited to be racing in the F1 Academy with PREMA in 2023" - Bianca commented. "The team is incredible and I have already learned so much in the short period of time I have been with the team at the F4 UAE Championship." Bustamante was selected for the third season of the all-female championship after impressing in the Arizona F4-test, as well as in the Barcelona collective test in the Tatuus F3 Regional car. Bustamante was chosen as one of the two Academy drivers, who should have gained a two-year entry in the series. She scored her first top ten at her W Series debut, with a remarkable ninth place finish at Miami that gained her 2 championship points. Alongside her W Series campaign, Bustamante also contested the opening two rounds of the new USF Juniors championship in the US, aiming to maximise her track time. Again, the young Filipina scored a top-10 in her first event at Ozarks International Raceway. Towards the end of the year, Bustamante took part in the Indian Racing League - a series featuring a mix of local and international talents. Racing for Bangalore Speedsters, she had an outstanding round at Chennai, and battled for the podium. Bustamante tested the new F4 car with Prema at Barcelona in December, before contesting the highly-competitive UAE-based series. In a 40 car field, Bustamante made huge improvements in the span of a few weeks - and scored points on her third weekend at Kuwait Motor Town, also progressing significantly in qualifying. Bianca will be one of the three Prema drivers, in one of the teams with the most outstanding records in feeder series. She is the second driver to be confirmed in the new championship, following Léna Bühler at ART Grand Prix. “We are happy to announce Bianca for our new F1 Academy programme", Rene Rosin, Team principal at Prema, stated. "We enjoy working together in the F4 UAE Championship and we feel there is great potential we can build on for the future."
"I think she will be an outstanding fit right from the start, especially considering what she was able to achieve in her first experiences, and we are determined to provide her with our best support.” Announced in November at the Abu Dhabi F1 GP, the F1 Academy series will have five teams with three drivers each: Prema is joined by top single-seater operations Carlin, MP Motorsport, ART GP, Campos Racing. Aimed to help female progression through the ranks of junior formulae, F1 Academy set a price cap at 150,000 euros for drivers.
"The F1 Academy is an amazing initiative for rising female talent in motorsports and I am looking forward to seeing what I can achieve with PREMA" - Bustamante continued. "I want to thank Liberty Media as well as Laurence Escalante for giving me support and making this possible. Also, a shout out to all my supporters and partners for continuing to help me in chasing my Formula 1 dream.” Prema will field 6 cars in Italian F4 and has run 7 cars in the UAE series - four under the banner of Mumbai Falcons. With the additional 3 in F1 Academy, the Italian team is one of the most experienced and successful organizations operating Formula 4 machinery.