Continuously exhibiting her racing prowess, young Filipina racing driver Bianca Bustamante completed her first full winter series of 2023 racing at the Formula 4 UAE Championship under the PREMA Racing team. Bustamante was able to record her best-ever race finish and first championship points in the winter series. The 18-year-old overcame numerous challenges over the course of 5 racing rounds in the Middle East to come away with two top-10 finishes amongst a 40-car grid, an incredible feat for someone who has only just started competing on the international stage. Bustamante continues to build upon her impressive growth following her rookie season in open-wheel cars in 2022 and now sets her eyes on preparation for the upcoming F1 Academy.
“What an incredible few weeks it has been in the Middle East. Despite all the challenges and tough competition, we were able to dig deep and come home with our first points in F4 UAE! I have had an absolutely amazing time with PREMA so far and in a short time, I learned so much,” said Bianca Bustamante.
Solid progress and first points
The Formula 4 UAE Championship attracts rising talent from across the globe, including drivers from the Ferrari, Sauber and McLaren driver development programmes among others, and is widely recognised as an integral step on the path to Formula 1. This year’s series was held over 5 rounds, with each consisting of 3 races along with testing, practice and qualifying sessions in Dubai, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.
“Huge thanks to them for the amazing car and incredible team environment that allowed me to have some of the best races of my career – I love the challenge and battling in such a tough grid of drivers.The team structure has been pivotal in my growth so far and there is still so much to learn. Thank you to everyone who has been a pillar of support for me every step of the way.”
Going head-to-head against nearly 40 of the best young male and female drivers in the world, Bustamante has already shown significant improvement in her first winter series. The teenager made consistent inroads since her debut in 2022 and, with increased track time, continued to gain confidence in her Tatuus F4 T421 car. Her ability to overcome challenges was evident, as she demonstrated a flair for racing, making a flurry of bold overtakes throughout the Championship series and matching the pace of more experienced competitors despite starting further back in the grid.
The multiple Asian Karting champion is taking a big step forward, as she pushes her limits to find more pace in the PREMA F4 car. Her progress eventually secured her first Championship point with a P10 finish in Round 3 – only to go one further to score a P9 in the subsequent Round 4.
Gearing up for F1 Academy
For Bustamante, this winter series serves as an essential precursor to her upcoming F1 Academy season, a brand-new all-female junior championship launched by Formula 1 set to debut in 2023. Bustamante, sharing her excitement for the F1 Academy season, “the Formula 4 UAE has prepared me well for my main program coming up in the F1 Academy, I cannot wait to get started!”
She is focused on improving her racecraft with PREMA, a historic team that has years of rich experience in junior category racing and young driver development. This year will see Bustamante spend more time behind the wheel, with increased opportunities for testing and more races, which will be monumental for her growth. Bustamante’s journey towards her Formula 1 goal would not be possible without the support of her title partner, Lance East Exotics and personal partners, Z Challenger and Next Level Racing alongside the unwavering backing of the BiaCrew and The Dark Horse Community.