Tag Archives: Lewis Hamilton

Ugo Ugochukwu: The Next Lando Or The Next Lewis?

The “McLaren Driver Support Programme” started in 1998 and the Formula One team signed two young kart drivers, 12 year old Wesley Graves (who was dropped after one season) and a 13 year old whom you may have heard of, Lewis Hamilton. After having no one in the program since 2019, in 2021 they signed a 13 year old American Ugo Ugochukwu Orlandi. In 2022 he graduated to Formula 4, running a full season in the British championship with Carlin, as well as making late season appearances in the ADAC (German) and Italian championships with Prema Racing. It’s fair to say he acquitted himself nicely.

His full season in British F4 started with a podium finish (on his 15th birthday) and over the course of 30 races Ugochukwu scored 2 wins, 11 podiums, 2 pole positions and 8 fastest laps on his way to 290 points and a third place finish in the championship. He was beaten only by two drivers each with a full season of F4 racing already under their belt, Williams Racing Driver Academy’s Oliver Grey and eventual champion, Alex Dunne.

Meanwhile with Prema he scored 4 podium finishes in 6 races in the Italian F4 series, plus 2 more podiums in 6 ADAC F4 races. Quite the accomplishment in his first season of open wheel car racing.

Ugo at Brands Hatch
Photo credit: British F4

Many think he could be the next F1 superstar, though he still has a long way to go to follow the incredible trajectory set by Lando Norris who took 4 seasons (and 3 championships) to go from karting to F1 and, of course, Lewis Hamilton (6 seasons and 3 championships).

Born in New York to Nigerian-born supermodel Oluchi Onweagba and her Italian fashion designer husband, Luca Orlandi, Ugochukwu began karting at age 6 and quickly stepped up to national competitions, winning the Micro Max class of the Florida Winter Tour in 2015 and the Junior ROK class of the Challenge of the Americas in 2018.

Then a huge change came when the young driver moved to Italy with Ugo taking his maiden European karting title in the X30 Mini Cup in 2017, before joining Ricky Flynn Motorsport for the 2019 season – the team that had run Lando Norris and Dan Ticktum in the past – managing eighth position in his first year of the FIA Karting European Junior Championship, including a podium at Le Mans..

For 2020 Ugo moved to the Sauber KR Team and claimed the OKJ European title. He remained with the team for 2021, but McLaren’s Zak Brown was already working on signing up the youngster and did so in March 2021.

Fast forward to 2023 and young Ugo is running a full program with the Italian Prema Racing team, beginning with finishing 3rd in the winter Formula UAE series with 5 wins, 8 podiums, 2 pole positions and 4 fastest laps. Then he returned to Europe where he currently leads the inaugural Euro 4 Championship after 6 of 9 races, and lies a close 3rd in the Italian F4 Championship with 3 races to go in the 22 race calendar.

Though his management may keep him in F4 for another full season, don’t be surprised to see him in a Formula 3 car in 2024 – most probably with Prema Racing – on at least a few occasions. We’re going to be hearing his name a lot more in years to come.

F1 Silly Season: Ferrari Swaps Finns?

We are now into the European portion of the 2018 Formula One season and with multiple contracts expiring this year, silly season is now in full swing. One of the key figures is Daniel Ricciardo and where he goes (or if he stays) will have a bearing on the rest of the big team line-ups. Many think he is lining up a seat at Ferrari, but let’s just think about this for a moment. Sebastian Vettel is the undisputed #1 at the Scuderia, and his contract is rumored to give him a say on his teammate, so why would he allow the man who beat him in a fair fight at Red Bull to come into “his” team? So where might the Australian turn if Red Bull can’t convince him to stay? After calling Max Verstappen the second coming, it’s a bit of a tough sell – but there again they’ve made billions selling a drink that tastes like rotting gym socks…

So the alternative is Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton isn’t scared of any teammate (“paging Fernando Alonso..”) but still hasn’t signed a contract, so maybe they will hedge their bets and pursue Ricciardo, leaving Valtteri Bottas out in the cold. Or would he be? The Finn would make a perfect replacement for a Finn – at Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen is clearly not the better of Vettel (and Sebastian likes it that way) but he isn’t doing enough to help Ferrari win the Constructors’ Championship, where the money comes from – and with Liberty Media wanting to strip away the Bernie Ecclestone-era bonuses that becomes all the important. So why not install “Finn 2.0” at the Scuderia? He’s fast, he’s quiet, he’s relatively cheap and he’s a team player. He also doesn’t have accusations of drunken sexually impropriety being leveled at him – another compelling reason for him to be put out to pasture.

So that gives us:

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton / Daniel Ricciardo
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel / Valtteri Bottas
Red Bull-Honda: Max Verstappen / Pierre Gasly (?) – that’s one for next time!



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MCZ Motorsports 250 F1 Season Preview

The MCZ Motorsports 250 2016 Formula One Season Preview podcast is now available for your listening pleasure! You can find it here.

Our predictions:

F1 2016 Predictions

1st Mercedes far ahead in testing mileage. Fast and didn’t even use the Ultrasoft tyre. Definitely sandbagging. They rebuilt Rosberg’s psyche at the end of last season but Hamilton is now refocused and the man to beat.
Hamilton over Rosberg.

2nd Ferrari set fast times but put in only average mileage and had some reliability questions. The change in front suspension design should help Raikonnen but he will always be second fiddle to Vettel in probably his last F1 season. Close but no cigar.
Vettel over Raikkonen.

3rd Williams put in average mileage and only went for times once in testing. This is definitely Felipe Massa’s last year in F1 and he is hoping for a good one but the lower steps on the podium are all he and Bottas can hope for, unless something goes wrong up ahead.
Bottas over Massa.

4th Toro Rosso. Now we come to the surprises. They put in great testing mileage and showed good speed. They will most definitely beat Red Bull Racing this year and could be a threat to the likes of Williams, lurking when Mercedes and Williams faulter.
Verstappen over Sainz.

5th Red Bull is a now a team hamstrung by their own ego. They won’t be bad but nothing spectacular is in store. Ricciardo will beat Kvyat but neither will be a threat for podiums let alone wins.
Ricciardo over Kvyat.

6th McLaren have improved but that wasn’t exactly hard after the 2015 fiasco! Alonso can wring ever last drop from the car, while Button is the consummate analytical racer. They won’t be the laughing stock in 2016 but they won’t be winning either.
Alonso over Button.

7th Force India are better prepared than last year but a financial cloud hangs over the future of the team thanks to Vijay Mallya’s antics which will only weigh heavier as the season progresses.
Perez over Hulkenberg.

8th Haas: New team problems are expected but this is a very different kind of debut. They could be the first new team since Toyota in 2002 to score points on their debut but more likely they will need to wait longer into the season, but it will come.
Grosjean over Gutierrez.

9th Renault admit that this will be a transition year and are setting the bar low. With a very late start in design the car is simply a re-engined revamp of the 2015 Lotus but at least they had the sense to kick Crashtor Maldonado to the curb.
Magnussen over Palmer.

10th Sauber will as always be good out the gate, and the first 3 races will probably be their best chances of scoring points. Their financial woes mean they will have precious little development of the car and the departure of Technical Director Mark Smith is a major blow.
Nasr over Ericsson.

11th Manor has gone through a huge shake up and it will take some time for things to settle. The addition of Mercedes power units is a huge plus but the teams’ lack of resources mean little in the way of development.
Wehrlein over Haryanto.

Another set of titles for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes – #4 for #44.
Now let’s go racing!



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