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EIS provides chance to invest in rising F1 star

Formula 1 racing fans can invest in the career of an up-and-coming driver, Justin Wilson, through an enterprise investment scheme.

The Justin Wilson EIS was established to raise the $1.5m contribution needed by Wilson to secure his 2003 contract with the small Italian F1 team Minardi. Many drivers who move to Formula 1 bring sponsorship with them, but this is difficult to obtain.

Minardi needs the money because it operates on a tight budget compared with larger teams such as Ferrari and McLaren. It has competed in F1 since 1985 but its results have been modest. However, it has a track record in establishing the careers of drivers such as Jaguar&#39s Mark Webber, Renault&#39s Fernando Alonso and Jordan&#39s Giancarlo Fisichella.

Wilson won the inaugural Formula Palmer Audi Championship in 1998 and was the first British driver to win the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship in 2001. Formula 3000 is one step below F1. But if Wilson is successful at stepping up into Formula 1, investors could double their money. Once this has been achieved, 10 per cent of his income until 2012 could provide a further return for investors. This income &#45 estimated at between $1m and $10m will be derived from driving contract retainer fees, personal sponsorship, car sponsorship, product endorsements, merchandising spin-offs and personal appearances.

Motor racing fans who like the novelty factor of investing in a sport star&#39s career may find it appealing, especially if the tax breaks would be useful to them. This EIS is different to many EISs in that in invests in a person rather than a company, but this also makes it high risk. Motor racing carries with it the risk of injury or even death and this would obviously affect investors&#39 returns, as would Wilson&#39s failure to make it on the F1 stage.

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