Team Ireland boss Mark Gallagher says signing driver Adam Carroll was the best decision he ever made in A1GP – but that doesn’t mean the Portadown native will be piloting the car in season five.
Gallagher made the suggestion that Carroll may be looking to move on to bigger things in an interview published on the series website that puts him head to head with his nearest rival – Team Switzerland chief Max Welti.
The championship-winning driver has repeatedly been linked with a possible F1 drive this summer and was thought to be under consideration by potential series entrant Lola, demonstrating cars for the company at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed.
However the failure of the FIA to select the Huntingdon-based outfit for 2010 entry means his prospects of entering the top flight of open-wheel racing now look more remote. But Gallagher hints that Carroll would also be interested in an IRL drive.
He says a driver of the calibre of Carroll, who took the title in a tight three-way race at the very last event at Brands Hatch in May, has been essential to deal with a car of the complexity of the one A1GP uses.
But he admits “we might want to bring other drivers on.”
Asked in the interview to recall the best decision he ever made in A1GP, Gallagher says: “To focus on getting Adam Carroll to drive for me.
“I did try to get him to drive for us in the first two seasons but he was busy. It wasn’t rocket science because the determining factor in making these cars go faster than one another is ultimately down to the guy behind the wheel.”
Asked about his biggest regret, he says: “That A1GP does not allow you to run a two-car team so therefore, in taking Adam, I had to give up on Ralph Firman.
“That is a regret because I have enormous respect for Ralph’s ability. He is, still to this day, underrated and he, like Adam, would have benefited from the way the team has grown.”
Asked if he has the best eligible racing driver, he says: “In Adam Carroll, unquestionably. I think all the other Irish drivers would agree on that and the only context that I would put that in is that at his age, with his experience and at his point at his career, he is the best and the correct man for the job and he has proven that.
“There are other members who are younger, highly talented but just need more experience and a bit more time in a car, there are also older drivers who are also talented but are at different points in their career, in terms of where they see themselves and whether they could go out in a single seater car as complex as this.
“Adam is at the right point and so it’s not the case of being better than anyone else, he is just the best man for the job and the best Ireland had at the present time.”
So, he’ll be in the car for season five, right?
“We have discussed this before and since winning the title at Brands Hatch. Adam would love to play a part in defending Ireland’s World Cup of Motorsport title.
“I think the phrase â€˜play a part’ is important because he knows that after two years that we might want to bring other young drivers on and he would encourage that.
“It’s come as no surprise to people to learn that Adam would love to look at other opportunities beyond A1GP, he would love to do races like the Indy 500 and the Grand Prix in Monaco, and those other series do hold an appeal for him but he has a huge passion for A1GP.
“He believes this is the best series he has ever done, he has promised us that whatever or if ever he went on to do other things he will still drive for A1 Team Ireland again.
“He has told me that no contract or boss would ever stop him coming back, because he enjoyed it so much and because it is the most significant part of his career to date.”
When asked to pick out an aspect of the Irish team that impressed him most, Welti said: “A1 Team Ireland is a very professional organisation; there is a lot of experience in each team member.
“They have a big advantage that they have their technical team together that is working all year long to get there, it is always the same people working together for a long time and this helps a lot.
“All of the other teams have to put a new team together often and it automatically means they have to live with personnel changes and as we know in technical sports consistency is the key to success.”