McLaren Development Driver Bianca Bustamante likes post with ableist slurs about F1 driver Lance Stroll

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The young F1 Academy driver is being heavily criticised on social media following an online controversy involving a vile comment aimed at the Aston Martin Formula 1 driver, a one-time polesitter and three-time podium finisher in the premier Motorsport category so far.

Bustamante liked the following post on X/Twitter, which featured a screenshot of a TikTok video rating racing drivers, with a negative opinion about her, quoted by a person defending the Filipina driver which featured disgusting ableist slurs towards Lance Stroll:

“How can you say she’s overrated when you have people who buy there way into the sport like autism stroll who have talent but if they didn’t have daddy’s money would be replaced instantly, like don’t say overrated till she gets her shot,” the tweet read.

The young driver born in 2005 competed in the inaugural F1 Academy championship this year with Prema Powerteam, winning in Circuit Ricardo Tormo and Monza, scoring 116 points to finish in a relatively disappointing seventh place.

For the 2024 season, Bustamante has joined the McLaren Driver Academy, returning for a second season in F1 Academy with Art Grand Prix.

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing

Bustamante briefly issued the following statement on the matter on Twitter, before deleting it, trying to justify the like as a simple mistake and went on to apologise for her actions:

“Growing up with a brother who has autism and Down syndrome. I fully support this, and never in my life ever mocked. My recent tweet was to address that I was not the person Marta was referring to in her video. And by accident scrolled like on one of the replies.

“Hence why the tweet was a photo of me and my teammates, simply portraying our good relationship. I deeply apologise for being a kid who made a mistake. I’m truly truly sorry.”

As of now, McLaren has not acknowledged it. The Woking-based team has always stressed the importance of mental health, with a long time standing partnership with Mind, a charity whose goals are “to campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding”.

The collaboration had started during the difficult COVID pandemic, with drivers at the time Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo designing and auctioning off a special merchandising collection, as well as rasing awareness on the topic by opening up about their personal struggles.

It’s not the first online controversy in recent times. Jüri Vips was sacked by Red Bull last year after the use of a racial slur on a Twitch stream with Liam Lawson. The Estonian has since appeared in IndyCar, competing in the final two rounds for RLL.