Bianca Bustamante Triumphs with P2 Podium at Miami Grand Prix Round 2 of F1 Academy season

Bianca Bustamante (PHL) ART celebrates her second position on the podium.
Photo Credit: F1 Academy Limited

McLaren and ART Grand Prix driver Bianca Bustamante had an action-packed weekend at Round 2 of the F1 Academy series in the vibrant city of Miami, Florida. The 19-year-old rising star secured her first podium of the season at the Miami International Autodrome, clinching P2 during Race 2 this past Sunday. Grabbing two top 5 results in the qualifying session, and a striking comeback between Race 1 to Race 2, it was overall a positive weekend for Bustamante, who now sits fifth in the F1 Academy driver standings, with a total of 39 points.

The Miami International Autodrome street circuit offers a combination of challenging corners, long straights, and sweeping curves, which proved to be an exhilarating test for both Bustamante and her iconic #16 McLaren Papaya-liveried Tatuus F4-T421. However, the teen was no stranger to the Miami Grand Prix considering she had made her remarkable debut in Formula car racing at the very same event during its inaugural race in 2022. Now returning two years later, Bustamante had a sense of familiarity to the track as the weekend kicked off with two free practice sessions on Friday morning followed by a qualifying session and two races over Saturday and Sunday.

Photo Credit: F1 Academy Limited
It was a sunny Saturday morning in Miami for the 30 minute qualifying which determined Bustamante’s grid positions for Race 1 and Race 2 based on her fastest and second fastest lap times, respectively. Throughout the session, the Filipina showed remarkable performance as she was consistently vying for pole position and even managed to grab the fastest lap on a few occasions throughout the competitive session. The Laguna, Philippines native eventually secured P4 on the starting grid for Race 1, and consistency paid off giving Bustamante P2 for the start of Race 2.

Bianca Bustamante (PHL) ART.
Photo Credit: F1 Academy Limited
The first race took place just a few hours after the qualifying session where Bustamante lined up P4 on the grid. However, at the start an unfortunate stall off the line saw the teenager drop from P4 to P16, nearly 10 seconds behind the last placed car.  This didn’t stop the Filipina as she demonstrated astonishing resilience throughout the 13-lap race, skillfully maneuvering her way up the ranks to claim a P7 finish over the line, climbing an impressive 9 positions in the sprint race with some fantastic overtakes. Unluckily, a 5-second penalty marred her performance, resulting in a final position of P9 for Race 1, still in a points paying position.
In light of Race 1’s setback, Bustamante remained determined to seize her opportunity to make a comeback with her front row start position of P2 in Race 2. She showed impressive consistency throughout the race on Sunday afternoon, maintaining a steady and fast pace. Despite persistent pressure from Doriane Pin in P3 who relentlessly pursued her, Bustamante showed her true speed and held P2 across the checkered flag, securing her first podium of the season and raising her nation’s flag high on the global stage.

Bianca Bustamante (PHL) ART celebrates her second position on the podium. Photo Credit: F1 Academy Limited
Bianca Bustamante | Race Driver, #16 McLaren Racing and ART Grand Prix
“This weekend has been unbelievable! We showed strong pace throughout the weekend, especially in qualifying where it mattered the most to secure strong start positions for both races. In Race 1, we had the chance to start in P4 but unfortunately I stalled off the line. At that moment, my goal was just to not give up, eventually passing 9 cars and finishing with the fastest lap of the race. Race 2 gave me a second chance to make up for my mistake in Race 1.

Bianca Bustamante (PHL) ART.
Photo Credit: F1 Academy Limited

It was really tough for sure, trying to stay with Abbi but also defending from Doriane. Super happy at the end and one of the most consistent races I have ever driven. I honestly would not have been able to achieve my first podium of the season without the constant support of my teams, McLaren and ART Grand Prix, whose patience and guidance have helped me become a better driver. I would also like to thank my sponsors and fans, who continuously pour out their love and support – the buzzing energy of Miami was insane. In the coming month, I will work hard to prepare for the next race in Barcelona.”

The next race for the McLaren Development Driver will be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain from June 20th to 22nd, where she spent a 2-day test session earlier this year to prepare for the upcoming race.
Round 3, June 21 to 23
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain

Round 4, August 23 to 25
Circuit Zandvoort, Netherlands

Round 5, September 20 to 22
Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore

Round 6, November 29 to December 1
Lusail International Circuit, Qatar

Round 7, December 6 to 8
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi