McLaren Welcomes Female Racer Bianca Bustamante to Their Development Team

The 18-year-old star will race with a McLaren-inspired design on her car in the upcoming F1 Academy season.


By Ben Bush
Updated on February 15, 2024

McLaren Welcomes Female Racer Bianca Bustamante

Bianca Bustamante is the newest addition to McLaren‘s driver development team.

The 18-year-old rising star will be driving with a McLaren-inspired livery on her car in the upcoming 2024 F1 Academy season as she races for the ART Grand Prix team.

READ MORE: F1 News: Oscar Piastri Takes First Win In Qatar GP Sprint Race

McLaren‘s development programme has been instituted to assist talents like Bustamante in advancing their careers across different formulae in F1, IndyCar, and Formula E.

Her track record includes finishing 15th in the 2022 W Series season, earning points that season.

As the inaugural 2023 season of the F1 Academy draws to a close with just one race left in Austin, Bustamante holds seventh in the standings.

Reflecting on this significant milestone, Bustamante expressed:

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.

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.

McLaren’s team principal, Andrea Stella, chimed in with:

The team are delighted for Bianca to join us, and for McLaren to be involved in F1 Academy. 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.

Women in Formula One history

The involvement of women in Formula 1, both behind the scenes and on the track, has a long, albeit sometimes underrepresented, history. The sport is and should be making a more concerted effort to address this inequality, however, as of when a female racer achieves a full-time F1 seat remains an unanswered question.

Here’s a look at just some of the women in Formula One history:

Female F1 Drivers

  1. Maria Teresa de Filippis (1958-1959): The first woman to compete in a Formula 1 Grand Prix. She drove for Maserati and took part in three races.
  2. Lella Lombardi (1974-1976): The most successful female F1 driver to date, she remains the only woman to have scored points in a Formula 1 race, which she did at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1975.
  3. Divina Galica (1976, 1978): Participated in three Grand Prix weekends but failed to qualify for the race.
  4. Desiré Wilson (1980): Raced in the British Grand Prix but failed to qualify. She’s renowned for being among the few women to win a Formula One race, having won a British Aurora F1 Championship race in 1980.
  5. Giovanna Amati (1992): The last woman to attempt to qualify for a Formula 1 Grand Prix, driving for the Brabham team.

Female F1 Team Principals and Owners

  1. Monisha Kaltenborn: The first woman to become a team principal in Formula 1 when she took over the role at Sauber in 2012.
  2. Susie Wolff: While never racing in an official F1 Grand Prix, she was a development and test driver for Williams F1. She later became Team Principal and a Venturi Formula E Team shareholder.

Female F1 Engineers and Strategists

  1. Ruth Buscombe: An esteemed race strategist, Buscombe has worked for teams like Ferrari, Sauber, and Haas F1.

Behind the scenes and within the teams’ women have been involved in various roles, from marketing and communications to logistics and management across F1 teams for many years.

Several Formula One teams have incorporated women into their pit crews in recent years, highlighting the increasing gender diversity in the sport.

While this provides a quick overview, it’s essential to recognise that women’s contributions to Formula 1 history and motorsport generally go beyond just these highlighted names and roles. The increasing awareness and initiatives for gender equality in motorsports are leading to more opportunities and recognition for women in the sport.

Seen in:

About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

Latest Reads