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Karthikeyan Rules Out A1 Drive

Indian Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan has no plans to drive for his country's A1 Grand Prix team in a new championship starting in September

"I'm not linked to A1," he said on Wednesday. "F1 is the pinnacle of the sport and to represent India in the world championship, there is no greater feeling and there is no greater feeling driving anything else."

"My heart is in F1 and that is where I want to be," the rookie Jordan driver said at a function organised by his sponsor.

A1 Team India manager Akbar Ebrahim said last week the 28-year-old, who became India's first F1 driver when he made his debut with Jordan earlier this season, could race for the championship and discussions were progressing.

The championship, seen as one notch below F1, will make its debut on September 25 and run until March, aiming to fill the gap over the European winter months when the F1 season is over.

The A1 series, dubbed the World Cup of motor racing, is the brainchild of Sheikh Maktoum Hasher al-Maktoum, a member of Dubai's ruling family.

The A1, expected to draw 25 teams, will be run on a franchise basis by national teams with drivers and sponsors from that country.

Karthikeyan felt there was uncertainty around A1.

"Sheikh Maktoum has put a new package together but it is unproven," he said. "Who are the drivers who are going to be there? I don't know.

"It will work only if they get the best drivers in the world who are in F1. Whether they can do that, I don't know."

Although Karthikeyan has struggled in his first season with the Jordan car plagued by reliability problems, his manager was confident the driver would remain in Formula One next season.

"We are still not sure where we are going to go, but we will be in Formula One somewhere," he said. "There has been very positive feedback from everybody."

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