Having flirted with the top flight before as a test driver for BAR-Honda back in 2005, it looks like A1GP leading light Adam Carroll may yet get an opportunity to break into Formula 1 – with suggestions the Irishman is in the frame at Lola as the illustrious British company eyes a return to the sport in its new budget-capped, 'low-cost' era next year.
Thanks to Carroll's efforts, Ireland currently sits a close second in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport title chase heading towards the final round at Brands Hatch at the beginning of next month, and the man from Portadown will be bidding to overturn the scant two-point deficit separating the emerald entry from defending champions Switzerland when he takes to the track to duel it out for glory in the nearest he will get to a 'home' meeting in the nation vs nation series.
Beyond that, however, the Ulsterman has his sights set firmly on grabbing his place on the exclusive grand prix grid – and having raced against and beaten drivers of the calibre of current F1 stars Nico Rosberg and Nelsinho Piquet, he is confident he possesses the necessary talent and potential to make the grade. His previous attempts to graduate have all been sabotaged by budgetary shortfall.
“I'm looking at my options for next year,” he told the Irish Independent
. “This has been a great season, but I'm also looking at other opportunities and there may be options for me in F1, especially with new teams expected to come into the series.”
One of those 'new teams' to which he alludes is Lola, owned by fellow Irishman Martin Birrane, who has expressed a very serious interest in rejoining the top flight for the first time in more than a decade should Max Mosley's groundbreaking new optional £30 million budget cap be formally approved by the FIA today [see separate story – click here
The last Irishman to compete in F1 was Eddie Irvine, who hung up his grand prix helmet at the end of the 2002 campaign following 147 starts, four victories and the runner-up spot in the 1999 drivers' world championship standings with Ferrari.
There is also understood to be the possibility of a seat for Carroll at the new North Carolina-based US GPE outfit, as well as rumoured interest from IndyCar Series squads across the Pond – with Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti, whose son Marco similarly races in A1GP, said to be keen on the man who has thus far notched up an impressive three victories, three further rostrum finishes, four pole positions and four fastest laps in 2008/09.
“We've had some fantastic chats,” the 26-year-old told the Irish Daily Mirror
. “We sat down with Michael Andretti, they're involved [in IndyCars] and we're competing against Marco.
“We're winning, we're up there in every single race and they're struggling to get in the top ten, so they rate me very highly. I know I can do it. I just need to go and take the opportunity.”