Bianca Bustamante races to 4th; leg 2 up in 2024 F1 Academy Season

Bianca Bustamante
Bianca Bustamante navigates the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for leg 1 of the 2024 F1 Academy season. —PHOTOS COURTESY OF RECERBIA/IG

Filipina speedster Bianca Bustamante is in great shape as she braces for leg 2 of the 2024 F1 Academy Season.

The 19-year-old survived a crash-filled contest at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit last month to earn solid points in her debut as an official McLaren development driver.

Filipina racer braces for action.

Despite some ups and downs, the teen racer currently holds fourth place in the standings after the opening round in Jeddah. She accumulated a total of 18 points, trailing behind Alpine’s Abbi Pulling, Maya Weug of Ferrari, and Mercedes-backed Doriane Pin.

Bustamante started fifth on the grid in Race 1 but lost a place after crossing the checkered flag in sixth.

In Race 2, Bustamante started 10th on the grid. However, she managed to maintain a respectable pace, finishing at 8th after a couple of strategic overtakes. 

Post-race penalties

Bustamante was in luck, though, as a significant post-race penalty to the winner, Pin, changed the final standings. 

Pin was handed a 20-second drive-through penalty after crossing the checkered flag twice. Similarly, Amna Al Qubaisi, who initially secured sixth place, faced a five-second penalty for veering off the track and gaining an unfair advantage.

Bustamante as a McLaren developmental driver
Bustamante impresses in her official debut as a McLaren developmental driver.

Reflecting on the races, Bustamante expressed her satisfaction with the solid points haul. 

“We couldn’t [maximize] our full potential, but we made the most of the situation to score solid points,” Bianca wrote in an Instagram post. “Most importantly, I learned a lot so big thanks to my team [ART Grand Prix] and [McLaren] for the great support.”

Pulling ahead

Bustamante inspects her racecar.

After the shake-up, the 21-year-old Pulling leads the pack with 44 points, followed by Weug and Pin in second and third place with 33 and 32 points, respectively.

Although claiming first place is now a tall order for the UST Angelicum College product, an improvement on last year’s 7th-place finish is imminent.

Bustamante is eagerly looking forward to capitalizing on her positive start to the season as the F1 Academy gears up for its return on May 3 to 5 in Miami.

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