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IRELAND'S newest world champion Adam Carroll's biggest challenge remains ahead of him - as he attempts to break into Formula One.

Money is the key to an ambition that the Portadown man has believed is his destiny from his go-karting days as a 12 and 13-year-old.

Since then he has reached the heights of Formula One testing for Honda-Bar three years ago alongside Lewis Hamilton and irregular appearances in GP2.

But it is his new status as A1 champion with Team Ireland that looks set to open doors for the 26-year-old, who knows access to the big time depends on big financial backing.

"I've always known that I can compare myself to the best in the world," said Carroll, whose championship triumph was secured on the back of two victories at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

"It's pounds 4m from Juniors to the doorstep of Formula One.

I've checked under the sofa and it's not there! "I've still had a lot of money put into me but I've got to where I've got on less than half what the other guys have had spent on them.

"I've won the same amount of GP2 races as Lewis but I was never with a team with the consistency and strength to win the championship.

"When I turn up in GP2 and in the Formula One world, people rate me as a very, very talented and quick driver and I've done some mega races - I've come from 26th to second and shown what I can do many times - but I've never been able to show it in a championship." Until now, that is. Carroll's consistency has got him noticed by the big boys.

MOVE Recently he met with Michael Andretti, a senior player on the Indycar circuit, and one possibility is that Carroll will move Stateside to compete there.

But there may also be options in Formula One and Carroll was encouraged when he recently bumped into Williams team legend Patrick Head in an airport.

"He told me I was doing a good job, so they watch the A1 championship in Formu- la One," Carroll recalled. "They know what's happening.

"But you still have to show you've got what it takes because to get into Formula One is so, so difficult.

"People pay $10m a year to sponsor a drive, that's $30m dollars over three years they bring to the team.

"Marc Webber paid for his first seat in a Minardi, Fernando Alonso - Flavio Briatore paid for him in his first season - Ruebens Barrichello put pretty much $20m into his F1 career through his dad to get where he is today in Formula One.

"Who else? Schumacher had to pay for his first race in Formula One. The list goes on and on and on."


DELIGHT Team Ireland principal Mark Gallagher and Adam Carroll celebrate with the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport trophy WIN Carroll at Brands Hatch
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 5, 2009
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