PREMA Racing have announced the first of their three-car roster for the inaugural F1 Academy season, with Filipino racer Bianca Bustamante joining the Italian team.

18-year-old Bustamante made her single-seater debut last year competing in W Series, scoring points in her first race with a ninth-place finish in Miami. She eventually claimed the top rookie honours, finishing 15th in the Standings.

“I'm very excited to be joining PREMA for the 2023 season. As a rookie in formula cars, 2022 was a year full of challenges, but today is definitely a big step up in my career,” said Bustamante. “PREMA is one of the most prestigious racing organizations in the world, and I'm incredibly grateful to join their family of drivers.

“With PREMA, I'm joining a top driver development program both on and off the race track, and most importantly, I will have a rigorous race and test program, giving me the much-needed seat time to perform at my best in competition. Thank you PREMA for bringing me into the program, and Formula 1 for launching this series to support young female drivers. Most importantly, thanks to Laurence Escalante for believing in me and supporting my journey, getting me one step closer to my F1 dreams.”

Bustamante has already begun settling into life with the Italian squad, competing with PREMA in the Formula 4 UAE Championship. Scoring two points finishes in Kuwait and Dubai, she finished 27th in the Standings.

PREMA Racing Team Principal René Rosin added: “We are happy to announce Bianca for our new F1 Academy programme. We enjoy working together in the F4 UAE Championship and we feel there is great potential we can build on for the future. I think she will be an outstanding fit right from the start, especially considering what she was able to achieve in her first experiences, and we are determined to provide her with our best support.”