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Formula 1 Returns to Screens, This Time With Brad Pitt

Hollywood has produced a number of car-racing movies over the years. There have been “Grand Prix,” “Le Mans,” “Days of Thunder” and “Ford v Ferrari.”

The latest, as-yet-untitled picture from Apple Studios, Plan B Entertainment and Jerry Bruckheimer Films is set in the world of Formula 1. It is about the fictional team APXGP and its two drivers, Sonny Hayes and Joshua Pearce, played by Brad Pitt and Damson Idris.

Pitt plays “a guy who raced in the ’90s, has a horrible crash, kind of craps out, disappears and then races in other disciplines,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports F1.

“His friend, played by Javier Bardem, is a team owner. They’re the last-place team — 21, 22 on the grid — they’ve never scored a point, have a young phenom played by Damson, and he brings me in as a kind of a Hail Mary, and high jinks ensue.”

The movie’s director, Joseph Kosinski — whose films include “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion” — said he was a fan of “Grand Prix” and “Le Mans.”

“They were captured at real races with real drivers, and that’s certainly been an inspiration for me in conceiving this project that’s been almost two years in the making,” he said. “I like doing ambitious projects, and this one is probably the most ambitious I’ve ever taken on. Our aim is to make one of the most authentic racing films ever.”

The racing car for the film’s team, APXGP, is a Formula 1 replica converted from a Formula 2 car.Credit…Christian Bruna/EPA, via Shutterstock

At the Silverstone circuit for the British Grand Prix and the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the first of numerous circuit visits the film crew will make this year, APXGP occupied a garage in the pit lane, had its own pit wall timing stand and had a motor home in the paddock.

The team ran black-and-gold liveried cars on track during the weekend. Kosinski’s team worked with Mercedes-AMG to convert Formula 2 cars into a Formula 1 replica that has 15 camera mounts.

Cameras positioned around the track will capture racing footage at severalGrands Prix during the season. And using techniques developed in the filming of “Top Gun: Maverick,” the APXGP cars will look like they are in a race.

“The movie should be as authentic as we can get it,” Pitt said. “You’ll see the cameras mounted all over the car. The shots — you’ve never seen speed, you’ve never seen G-forces like this. It’s really exciting.”

Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes driver and seven-time Formula 1 champion, is an executive producer working with Kosinski to help with authenticity.

“I’ve spent time with Joe, trying to make sure we’ve got the best camera positions,” Hamilton said. “The frame rate is different, so it’s going to look fast, faster than it does on TV. You will have seen what Joe did with the fighter jets in ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ with the dogfights, which was pretty epic. Bringing that technology and viewpoint into our world, it’s going to be amazing.”

From left, Brad Pitt and Joseph Kosinski, director of the upcoming film, talk on the grid during the British Grand Prix.Credit…Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Hamilton is also impressed with Pitt’s driving skills. The actor, 59, was trained for the role by driving karts and open-wheel cars before progressing to Formula 2.

“We did do a day together at a track in L.A., and for someone who hadn’t raced, he’s definitely got a keen eye,” Hamilton said. “He loves watching MotoGP” — Grand Prix motorcycle racing — “so he’s always been a racing enthusiast, and you could see he has a knack for the racing lines. He was definitely fully on it, which was good to see.”

At Silverstone, Pitt took part in the drivers’ briefing — a prerace meeting with the race director of the F.I.A., the sport’s governing body — to discuss issues from the previous event and anything of possible concern for that weekend. George Russell, Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes, said it was “quite surreal” to have Pitt involved.

“It’s only when you get to be with those individuals — whether it’s Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt or Roger Federer, whoever it is you’ve been fortunate enough to meet — that you recognize they’re just normal human beings,” Russell said. “He was joking around, having a good time and just being one of the boys.”

Since Liberty Media Corporation took control of Formula 1 in 2017, the global presence of the sport has been transformed. Referring to the “Drive to Survive” documentary series on Formula 1, Hamilton said, “We’ve already seen the great work and impact of the Netflix show, and I think this movie will take it to new heights beyond that.”

Javier Bardem, center left, walked with Brad Pitt on the grid at Silverstone. He is playing a Formula 1 team owner alongside Pitt, his “Hail Mary” driver.Credit…Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Stefano Domenicali, the chief executive and president of Formula 1, said the opportunity for a film about the sport was “too good to turn down.”

“When we were approached about the possibility of this movie,” he said, “I thought it would be another fantastic way for fans to see what an amazing sport we have and to hopefully open it up to an even wider audience than we have now.

“But we have been clear, and the Apple team fully agrees: It needs to be authentic in order to show the real Formula 1. So the fact the scenes for the movie are being filmed during Grand Prix weekends adds drama and authenticity.”

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of the F.I.A., said his organization was doing all it could to help Kosinski and his team “achieve something both they and the sport itself can be proud of.”

“We have been able to work together to provide unprecedented access to live moments,” he said, “which I am sure has never been done before at this level in a filming project.”

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