Bay Area Filipino teenager Bianca Bustamante makes history by winning F1 Academy race in Spain

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Bianca Bustamante, 18, has just become the first Filipina to win an F1 Academy race with PREMA Racing. The F1 Academy is a new all-female racing series founded by Formula 1.

Bustamante was born in the Philippines but also spent time growing up in the Bay Area. She told ABC7 News that her family commuted between San Jose and Sonoma Raceway growing up so they could compete in go-kart races.

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“You get this feeling like ‘Oh I’m going to crash, I’m going to crash’ but it’s not and I think that feeling of being kinda close to the edge gives you so much adrenaline” , said Bustamante.

Bianca’s passion for driving is undeniable. The 18-year-old made history with her win in early May, but she’s not slowing down.

Bianca makes you smile in conversations, but don’t let that fool you. She’s a racing driver and she’s fast. She has been since her debut in karting, which began at the age of three.

“I really remember my first driving memory. I was probably going around 60 kilometers per hour, so for me it was already so fast and I fell in love with the speed,” Bustamante said.

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“60 kilometers or 6 kilometers? we asked what his response was quickly, “60!”

Bustamante is proud to represent the 113 million people living in the Philippines and Filipinos around the world, but is also well aware of the challenges her family faced growing up in both the Philippines and the United States, particularly in the Bay Area.

“My dad was an OFW. He was a Filipino overseas worker in America in San Jose, so over there he worked a lot in construction, he worked three jobs to give money for my race to to put food on the table and because of that I rarely saw him and that’s why it meant so much that I won because it wasn’t just for me,” Bustamante said. “It was for all Filipinos, especially when the anthem was played.”

While Bianca’s recent victory at the F1 Academy was significant, she will never forget winning the Macau International Kart Grand Prix as a nine-year-old.

“I took a step in the penultimate quarter and took the checkered flag, so that was my first-ever international win in Macau and I think after winning that, hoisting the flag Filipino on the podium and being the only girl in it was like oh fuck really, that was the most pivotal point of my career, you know,” Bustamante said.

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Bianca says she has always looked up to former NASCAR and IndyCar racer Danica Patrick. She doesn’t shy away from talking about racing in a field dominated by men.

“At first it can be so daunting to follow a path that not many people would normally take and I always thought to myself if it was easy everyone would do it,” Bustamante said. “Yeah, I can drive a car at that speed, but the next day I might do my make-up or make-up routine or do an outfit check just doing normal things a young girl would do. Sometimes being real is the best you can be and that’s what I’ve always tried to show little girls.”

When we spoke with Bianca, she had just completed a full workout. She then spoke to us for 35 minutes straight and her passion for the sport was evident. She said finally racing in the main series of F1, or IndyCar, or NASCAR is her “Everest” as she calls it.

You can follow Bustamante on his Instagram and TikTok.

You can find more information about the F1 Academy here.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live


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