Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven

Wonder Special Series: Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven

In the last few years, people have started to show more interest in motorsports—blame it on Netflix, social media or pretty boy racers. But the last few months have put this interest into overdrive thanks in large part to Bianca Bustamante, whose F1 Academy wins have not only put herself on the podium, but have put the spotlight again on Filipino female athletes who dominate in traditionally “masculine” sports. 


Bianca made headlines after joining F1 Academy’s Prema Racing last February and winning her first title in May at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain. She then took her second win—making back-to-back podium finishes—in Italy in July. But this isn’t where her story starts.


“Coming from the Philippines, it was always difficult to get into [motorsports],” she says. “[My start] really came from my dad, who was a former karter.” Bianca then went on to explain that she had her own racing suit by the time she was a year old, and was on a go-kart by the time she was three. She was working out at the age of seven while the rest of us were playing in friend’s houses and watching movies. She admits that she didn’t have a normal childhood, but that she knew even then that she wanted to be a professional racing driver. 


She shares: “That passion, [my dad] passed to me.”

Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven

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The 18-year-old racing driver further touches base on her humble beginnings in the sport. She goes on to explain that it was never a hobby for her—a fact that only pushed her to be more disciplined and devoted in her efforts. “Growing up and knowing that it wasn’t something that I could take for granted, that it was something I really had to put my effort into to succeed—I think that in itself, that mentality, actually allowed me to take the sport with so much passion and discipline.”


Sports are a mental game, and Bianca understands this in a way the rest of us would never be able to comprehend. “When I’m on the track, the biggest challenge I face is myself,” she starts. “You’re dealing with everything in a matter of seconds. Everything comes at you fast; you have to make decisions on the spot, and all those decisions can impact your result, your race.” 


Because when choices have to be made in nanoseconds and when these choices can make or break your performance, there is no room for doubt. You have to focus, trust your instincts, trust the team behind you and give it your all.  


“The minute that I believed I could do it, I was able to achieve so much more.”

Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven

And while it might go without saying, we’re going to say it anyway: we’ve been loving how Filipino women in sports have been making headlines, and Bianca Bustamante’s career in a traditionally male-dominated sport has been the icing on the cake recently.  


Bianca explains that motorsports being “male-dominated” stems from the idealism that racing and cars “belong” to men. “You’re often told that cars are for boys, Barbie dolls are for girls,” she says. “It’s deeply rooted. We kind of grew up with the thinking that, as women, we’re not allowed to be [around cars] or to be involved because it’s dangerous. That’s one of the reasons why there’s not a lot of women who are inclined to get into sports.”


Add in the fact that even an athlete like Bianca Bustamante still gets comments calling her out for being who she is and for doing what she does. “It’s a very common thing that you really have to accept—not just in sports; you get it from your friends, even your family sometimes,” she explains. “It’s always about having to respect one’s opinions and accepting that you can never please everyone. That in itself makes me realize that I have to treasure the people who do support me. Because they are the ones who will get me far.”

Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven

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The support that she’s been getting has been overwhelming, but Bianca admits that it’s also increased the pressure she puts on herself. Nevertheless, she’s learned to turn this into the driving force that keeps her pushing for success. “I think about all the people who have been supporting me, all the Filipino fans are rallying behind me, and all the efforts my parents and my team have put in…knowing all these people behind me are supporting one cause—for me to succeed—it’s really beautiful,” she shares with a smile. “I’ve always taken so much pride in carrying the Philippine flag with me. I guess it’s one thing to represent your country, but it’s another thing to represent in a sport that’s one of a kind.” 


Bianca is breaking barriers the world-over, and she self-aware enough to know that her platform can do us a world of good. “No matter how masculine an environment can be, you can be as feminine as you want, you can be as pretty as you want,” she says. She explains that there’s absolutely no shame in duality, that it’s something that should be celebrated. So wear makeup and fix your hair for the gym, add a little femininity into your step as you walk up that podium. “The results are what matter,” reiterates Bianca. “As long as you’re doing good and you’re being who you are, that’s really all that matters.”

Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven

“I always said that I want to be different, that I want to see the world,” says Bianca. “And winning—it’s a good feeling. It’s a result of all the hard work put in, but I want to be beyond that.” The racing driver than goes on to share that she wants to be an inspiration to the next generation, to be someone to look up to in the world of motorsports. She understands that kids are being put into boxed, even know, and she wants them to feel empowered enough to break them. Because when you can’t find that in your own little world, you can look elsewhere—to someone else—to remember that you can be more. 

“Being a racing driver wasn’t trendy [when I started], but I still pursued it. So in the end, find a path that suits you.”

Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven
Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven
Bianca Bustamante Explores The Road Less Driven

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