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EXCLUSIVE: McLaren driver admits signing for team brought 'ABSURD amount of spotlight'

EXCLUSIVE: McLaren driver admits signing for team brought 'ABSURD amount of spotlight'

EXCLUSIVE: McLaren driver admits signing for team brought 'ABSURD amount of spotlight'

EXCLUSIVE: McLaren driver admits signing for team brought 'ABSURD amount of spotlight'

Formula 1's transformation from Sunday afternoon's slightly niche sport to the global phenomenon it is today has made representing one of the 10 teams come with plenty of attention.

While Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari was a once-in-a-generation news story, you don't have to have reached the legendary status of those two names to feel the public eye's gaze.

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McLaren is the F1 team closest to Ferrari in race starts, wins, and pole positions, and one of their drivers has noticed the uptick in external scrutiny since wearing the Woking team's speedmark logo.

Speaking exclusively with GPFans earlier this year, they detailed the positive and negative aspects of becoming a McLaren driver.

READ MORE: Leclerc hints at early F1 RETIREMENT

McLaren pros and cons

McLaren joined F1 in the 60s

Bianca Bustamante joined the McLaren Driver Development Programme following the conclusion of F1 Academy's maiden season in which the teenage racer competed.

She switched from PREMA to ART GP for 2024 and is the only second-season driver in the French outfit's three-car line-up.

Despite being in another powerhouse feeder series team, it's McLaren affiliation that Bustamante explained has changed for her, saying, "Signing with McLaren has pros and cons, but for sure, one of the difficult parts of it is that there's always that absurd amount of spotlight on you.

"You're not allowing yourself to make mistakes like many of the junior drivers.

"A lot of these kids in the Winter Series in Spain or Spanish F4, they get to make mistakes, they get to finish last, they get to do a bad lap time without so much criticism.

"I think that's one of the negative parts of it... that you constantly have to develop and grow and make mistakes under so much pressure, with so many people watching and waiting for you to make a mistake.

"You don't allow yourself to make those mistakes.

"You kind of put yourself in a situation where you're always thinking about what if I do this, what if I do that, rather than just living in the moment and making those mistakes as everyone does in their junior formula days."

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Bustamante remaining positive

Bustamante joined McLaren in 2023

Despite Bustamante's concerns about those looking for her to fail, she scored points in both of the opening round's two races and sits P4 in the 2024 F1 Academy standings.

She continued to detail that the McLaren backing isn't all about picking up on more criticism than her peers, and said, "It's a good and a bad thing that you have to embrace in a positive way.

"I'm using every bit I can to make sure that I'm consistently progressing and working on myself.

"It's really important to not focus on what everyone else is saying but more on what you think is best for you.

"Having the support of my team, my family, and of course McLaren and ART has helped me really grow as a driver and as a person."

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