Zak Brown says McLaren beat big Formula 1 teams to the signature of American karting champion Ugo Ugochukwu.
The British team announced in late March that they had signed the 13-year-old reigning FIA European karting champion.
In the announcement, Brown said that they had been closely watching the American for some time, and he has now revealed that so to had other teams on the F1 grid, big ones.
“There was interest from a couple of other teams — some of the big ones,” Brown said as per RACER.com.
“I think he’s got a great racing pedigree — Andreas 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.”
Unlike Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, McLaren don’t have their own young driver academy made up of various talents competing in the feeder categories.
However, team principal Andreas Seidl isn’t worried by this, saying that the main thing is that they have two top drivers in their F1 seats, and that in Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, they do.
“That’s obviously the target in terms of driver line-up — to have two top guys that are always able to get the maximum out of the car and out of a race weekend, to score good points. That was a good strength of our team the last two years,” he said.
“That was one key element of scoring these good positions in the constructors’ championship and we obviously wanted to make sure we keep going in that direction with our driver line-up.
“I am very happy that we have Lando and Daniel onboard. I think we have already seen (in Bahrain) — I am absolutely convinced that we can continue this.”
The team made a strong start to the season, claiming P4 and P7 at the Bahrain Grand Prix.