McLaren Beat ‘Big’ Rivals To Sign This Young Talent

McLaren announced last month that they had signed 13-year-old American karting champion Ugo Ugochukwu.

McLaren drivers at the 2021 Bahrain GP -

McLaren had to compete against “big” F1 rivals to sign FIA European karting champion Ugo Ugochukwu last month, according to Zak Brown.

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Commenting on the signing this week, Brown revealed that Ugochukwu had a few offers from different F1 teams.

“There was interest from a couple of other teams — some of the big ones,” Brown said, as quoted by

“I think he’s got a great racing pedigree — Andreas [Seidl] and I spoke about it quite a bit — so we did have to put some work into it because if he wasn’t going to sign with McLaren he was definitely going to have a Formula 1 relationship and he had a couple of different choices.

“I like his background, like what he has achieved to date. I like his family.

“He’s very articulate. He’s still very young but Andreas and I continue to think very long-term in our ambitions for McLaren and we got the opportunity and I’m very happy we signed him up,” Brown added.

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In December, McLaren said it would be sticking to its “very targeted” approach when signing drivers for its young driver programme.

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Prior to signing Ugochukwu, McLaren didn’t have any young drivers on its books following Sergio Sette Camara exiting their programme to join Red Bull as a reserve driver.

However, as Brown explained in December, the team is eager to avoid signing too many drivers and then struggling to place them.

“We have a different philosophy. I think you do run into the problem that the others have, where they have too many drivers and they start trying to place them with other teams, or they don’t have a seat available when their driver is ready to be available,” Brown said.

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“McLaren, especially with our recent progress, will always be a team that most drivers have a high desire to drive for, especially as we continue to progress.

“Lando [Norris] is very young. We’re just getting started with Daniel [Ricciardo], so to have a driver knocking on our door in a year or two, we’re not going to have room for them.

“I think we are more strategic, like we were with Lando, found him early, like we were with Stoffel [Vandoorne] – unfortunately that didn’t work out.

“It worked out with Lewis [Hamilton, and just hand-picked a few when you just see they might mature at a time when you might have a seat available,” he explained.

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