As the new junior face of McLaren in F1 Academy, Filipino driver Bianca Bustamante has been the one to watch ever since her first win in the racing series this year, which made it to Google’s Most Searched list of 2023.
In anticipation of the next season, it feels natural that she would ego-search on social media to see what the motorsport community thinks about her. Little did she know that an accidental like on a tweet would change the discourse in 24 hours.
X (formerly known as Twitter) is home to a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the most toxic discussions any online user could come across, and the Formula 1 conversation is no exception. Ever since his debut in the sport, one of the most talked-about topics has surrounded Lance Stroll and how he entered F1 with a ‘silver spoon’.
Despite earning three podiums, one pole position, and 268 total points throughout his career, there’s a vocal minority that dislikes how his father, Lawrence Stroll, has given his son opportunities to drive for the F1 teams he used to own (Williams) and currently owns (Aston Martin).
One turning point was when Lawrence stepped in to purchase Force India after the constructor went into administration in 2018. This led to a midseason battle for the empty seat between Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez because Lance’s seat on the team was already secured for 2019.
The unfolding events, plus the dramatization on Netflix’s Drive to Survive, brought further negative light on the Canadian billionaire, which trickled down to his son.
How did Bianca fall into this rabbit hole? She found her name in a tweet that replied to a post calling her out as “overrated” and without any explanation. Said reply found offense with that mindless claim, going as far as to call out Stroll’s nepotism and insulting his name as an “autist” for no reason.
A simple assumption would be that Bianca breezed through and liked the post but didn’t notice the derogatory term used in the heat of the moment. Nevertheless, she has been following the anti-Stroll rhetoric for a long time, having liked similar (and less offensive) posts as far back as July.
Bianca has since apologized for her actions on X, emphasizing living with an autistic brother and how much unneeded hate she has followed in the past month or so. Being a young driver in the spotlight can be daunting once your bad habits leak into the public sphere.
Only time will tell if fans will either move on to the next drama or never forget this episode—and haunt her career forever. While it is not wrong to voice one’s opinion, it’s a hard lesson to learn in an environment that values sportsmanship. As they say, if you have nothing good and constructive to say, it’s best not to express it.
Or better yet, use a burner account. Lewis Hamilton and many others (like Kevin Durant) have one for a reason.