Adam Carroll is pinning his hopes of a Formula 1 future on securing nations' title glory for Ireland in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - as he acknowledges that opportunities to break into the highest echelon 'are very limited'.

In 2005, Carroll was signed up as a test driver for BAR-Honda, after finishing as runner-up to current Renault F1 ace Nelsinho Piquet in the 2004 British F3 Championship, but despite his undoubted pace, promise and potential it has never quite since happened for the man from Portadown.

His consistent bugbear of a lack of funding was to blame for three inconsistent and incomplete seasons in GP2, during which time there were five triumphs - the first of which came in only his second race in the series, at Imola in 2005 - and no fewer than 14 podium finishes, but never any real chance to battle for the laurels, meaning the top flight's team bosses have still not come knocking.

The total cost of his three-year competition in F1's feeder category came to less than half the ?1.5m price tag of a normal full season, what the 26-year-old agrees was almost 'an achievement in itself', and since then he has become a front-runner in A1GP, immediately securing the emerald entry's highest weekend points score to-date upon his debut at Brno just over two years ago.

"Like that, you don't get the opportunity to have a whole team behind you to fight for a championship," Carroll admitted to British newspaper The Sun of his finance-stricken GP2 travails. "That's where A1GP has given me a chance.

"F1 is always extremely difficult to get into. It's such a small world, especially when you have drivers who stay in teams for a long time.

"Opportunities are very limited, more so because of things like the Renault and Red Bull young driver programmes, which provide a ladder for those in them.

"I think you just have to be smart. I'm really enjoying A1GP at the moment and putting all my effort and concentration into going out to win this championship - and I believe only good can come of it.

"Hopefully I can go from there and put a programme together to have another crack at Formula 1; that is still the main goal. Hopefully I can sneak in the back door. I haven't given up yet!"

Indeed, following a brace of victories in China and Malaysia and a second place finish in the former to-boot, Carroll and Ireland have expertly overcome a double retirement in the opening meeting at Zandvoort to steal the championship lead three rounds into the nation vs nation series' 2008/09 campaign.

The Ulsterman is clearly enjoying the 'David vs Goliath' like challenge thrown down to him and is rising to the occasion - and he is confident the underdog team can now go all the way and clinch the crown, what he hopes may be just the necessary catalyst to re-ignite interest in him from the F1 world.

"It has taken me about six years to get into this position," he confessed, "but now I have the support of the team, a good engineer and I can go out and show what I can do.

"We've been strong over the last two events on two completely different circuits, so our set-up of the car has really come together. We have a really good bunch of guys; they're quick in the pit-stops and extremely thorough with the car.

"Can we win the championship? Yeah, definitely!"



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