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The F1 Academy Thrives and Bianca Bustamante joins McLaren's Junior Development Program

During the past week, the new 2024 race calendar for the F1 Academy was announced. The F1 Academy started this year and it is an all-female racing series. It includes five teams with three drivers on each team. The managing director is Susie Wolff who was a development driver for the Williams Formula 1 team. The F1 academy was created as a way to give female drivers to compete at a high level and also create many opportunities for the drivers.

The inaugural F1 Academy season came to an end this past weekend and has officially declared their first championship winner. After seven rounds and 21 races, Spaniard driver Marta Garcia became the maiden F1 Academy champion in Austin, Texas. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton showed their support this weekend. Earlier in the week, Hamilton had the opportunity to visit the F1 Academy Paddock and meet many of the drivers. While Russell was able to present the trophies to the top three race winners of the first race.

Courtesy of Dan Istitene

The F1 Academy has created many opportunities, such as each of the 10 teams providing support to a driver during the 2024 season. . Each of these drivers will have the opportunity to race a Formula 1 team's livery and represent them during the F1 Academy 2024 season. Some drivers have already received the support of an F1 team during this 2023 season like Canadian driver Abbi Pulling who is supported by the Alpine Academy. Lena Buhler is also another driver who is currently being supported by the F1 team that is Alfa Romeo.

Courtesy of Eric Alonso

The F1 Academy has opened many doors for young and talented female drivers, one of these drivers being Bianca Bustamante. Bustamante who is an 18 year old Filipino driver became the first female to join McLaren’s junior development program. Bustamante raced for Prema Racing during the 2023 season and scored 116 points during the season which included a first place podium. In a video posted by the McLaren Instagram page, Bustamante raved about how she has always been a McLaren fan and was very excited to join the team. Hopefully, many teams will follow the lead and take a second look at these talented women and allow them an opportunity to shine.

Courtesy of McLaren’s Instagram Page

Bustamante and the F1 academy serve as a prime example that if given the right opportunities and resources, women can succeed in a male dominated sport. The academy was a great opportunity to show the audience that women are just as capable of competing in such a high level and physically demanding sport as men are. The F1academy and Bustamante are not only creating opportunities for other women in motorsport but also serving as an inspiration to many young little girls. As the F1 academy continues to grow, so will the number of fans and supporters of this great program. The F1 Academy will not only change the lives of the drivers who are given this opportunity but also the lives of any little girl who has had the dream of being in the sports industry.

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