It’s about 4,947 miles from Stevenage to Eddie V’s Prime Seafood restaurant in downtown Austin, Texas, and a seat next to Brad Pitt.
This is where Hertfordshire-born Lewis Hamilton found himself on Thursday night, a Hollywood superstar for the company in the state capital’s fanciest steakhouse, as Formula 1’s top brass hatches their next big screen hit: a film starring 58-year-old Pitt as a pilot-turned-team-owner who returns to the cockpit; Hamilton, 37, will act as co-producer and consultant.
It is hoped that it will build on Netflix’s Drive to Survive series, which has attracted a new audience that now understands that what happens on the track is only a fraction of what the sport is all about.
Lewis Hamilton set to co-produce F1 film alongside legendary actor Brad Pitt, 58
The film will star Pitt as a former racer turned team owner who returns to the cockpit
Which brings us back to Eddie V’s on 5th Street, where a 32oz long-bone ribeye is $160. Vegan Lewis was forced off the menu for his supper.
Well, what a parade it was in the private dining room of the bustling restaurant, a favorite haunt of the main characters on the annual trip here.
The guest list told how important this putative film was to everyone involved: On the other side of Hamilton sat Greg Maffei, US managing director of Formula 1 owners Liberty Media.
Pitt was present before the United States Grand Prix in Texas
Also in attendance were F1 boss Stefano Domenicali, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s father Anthony and stepmother Linda.
Hamilton gave a speech which was met with warm applause and then they slipped away.
The film which bears the working title Formula One, it can be revealed, will involve all teams in real action at the grand prix – an idea discussed when Domenicali and Pitt watched Top Gun: Maverick together in London earlier this year.
It will air on Apple TV, which announced in June that it had secured the rights for $140m (£125m), and is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who was in charge of the latest Top Gun film.
He was also present at dinner. Hamilton has already revealed he won’t have an on-screen role.
A weekend crowd of 440,000 is expected here at Circuit of the Americas, 15 miles southeast of downtown.
These figures reveal the growing grip of Formula 1 in the United States, where they have so far been slow to warm to what they saw as a largely European distraction.
Miami made the list this year, an extravaganza that Domenicali and Co aims to eclipse when cars roar down the Las Vegas Strip on November 18 next year.
No driver has won the Grand Prix d’Amérique more times than Hamilton’s record six wins
Hamilton has won the Grand Prix d’Amérique six times, once in Indianapolis and five times in Austin, but this time he is fighting against his machinery. Nonetheless, he was peppy as he spoke a few hours before his dinner date.
“I’m very happy to be in the United States,” said the Mercedes man and new Denver Broncos co-owner. ‘This track is special. Considering it’s a newer circuit, it’s one of the best.
‘And they just do it differently here, don’t they? We Europeans are good at sports, but there are things we have learned from the partnership with Liberty. Sport develops in terms of how we put on the show.
Hamilton has not won this season, having done so uniquely in each previous year of his career, but one ray of hope may lie in the significant improvements from Mercedes.
Hamilton risks losing his incredible winning record every season
“We’ve had expectations in the past – ‘Oh, that’s going to bring a tenth,’ and then we struggle to extract that,” he said. ‘So I’m of an open mind.’
The FIA, meanwhile, waived race director Eduardo Freitas for the rest of the season and changed its rules after it sent out a crane during the Japanese Grand Prix in the rain.
In a tacit admission of failure, an October 9 race report concluded that a recovery vehicle, which narrowly missed Frenchman Pierre Gasly, will no longer be allowed on the track until all the cars are grouped behind the safety car.
And rather than alternate race direction with Freitas, Germany’s Niels Wittich will officiate the remaining four races.