13-Year-Old Ugo Ugochukwu Is America’s Next Great F1 Hopeful


The son of Nigerian-born supermodel Oluchi Onweagba-Orlandi signs with McLaren.

ugo ugochukwu f1 hopeful
Oluchi Onweagba-Orlandi

First and foremost, Ugo is an American, which is a target market for Formula 1 in the years ahead—and a country where F1 has struggled to make an impact, despite the recent success of the Netflix Drive to Survive series.

Now 13, Ugo is the son of Nigerian-born supermodel Oluchi Onweagba-Orlandi and her Italian husband, the fashion designer Luca Orlandi, so he’s an American-Nigerian-Italian.

Both of his parents are well-known in the fashion industry.

His father founded the Luca Luca, high-end women’s fashion brand in New York in 1991, while his mother won the inaugural Nokia Face of Africa competition in 1997, at the age of 17. The prize for this was a three-year contract with the Elite Model Management firm and she soon moved to New York and began appearing in magazines such as Vogue, Maire Claire, Elle, Surface and many others. She did fashion shows for Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, Gucci, Givenchy, Fendi, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Nina Ricci and ad campaigns for a series of brands, notably Victoria’s Secret and appeared for four years in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She has since launched her own model agency in Africa called O Model Africa which is dedicated to promoting the next generation of African models. She is also the host and head judge of the show, Africa’s Next Top Model.

Ugo will move to the OK Senior class in 2021.

The agreement provides McLaren Racing with an option on Ugo’s services in the future, while supporting his development and evolution as he progresses through the junior categories of motorsport.

“Ugo is a promising young talent with strong development prospects,” says Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal. “While he is still early in his career, it is clear he has the ingredients to be successful in the sport. This signing reflects our refocused approach to identifying and supporting new talent, away from a formal young driver programme to a more tailored basis.”