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Formula 1

British GP grid/formation lap cameo for Pitt’s F1 team explained

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

The two cars built for Apple Studios’ Formula 1 film starring Brad Pitt will have a cameo on the starting grid and formation lap for the British Grand Prix.

Filming has begun on the yet-to-be-titled project and at Silverstone there is a strong production presence, including a full-scale garage for the fictional 11th team APX GP.

F1 APXGP garage

Two Formula 2 cars have been adapted between junior single-seater team Carlin and Mercedes’ Applied Science division, giving them F1-style designs.

These cars have been driven at Silverstone already, including by Pitt and his team-mate in the film Damson Idris, although the driving this week appears to have been undertaken by professional substitutes.

Some of the on-track shoots, which have been held between the official track sessions for F1 and its support categories, have included ‘formation driving’ with the cars in close proximity.

The most impressive integration is the presence the two cars will have on the starting grid and for a brief moment on the formation lap, though.

Alpine driver Pierre Gasly said that “on Sunday, the grid might look slightly different than usual”, confirming something that has been known to F1 insiders for several days after McLaren’s Lando Norris said on Thursday: “I think they’re joining us on the installation lap on the race from what I’ve heard, so I just hope they don’t ruin that.”

It is not correct that Pitt will be leading the formation lap from the front and completing the whole thing, though, or even driving in this moment.

The APX cars will be positioned at the back of the grid to capture more footage around the build-up to the race and then the start of the formation lap itself.

Brad Pitt F1 British GP

Pitt joined the drivers’ briefing on Friday night, which Lewis Hamilton said made it “probably the best drivers’ briefing we’ve ever had” and explained more details of the production plans.

“It was just a really nice approach,” said Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“They really understand that we have got a job to do which is to drive on track and they’ve got a job to do and don’t want to be in the middle of the way which is great.

“Pretty sure it will be quite transparent [unintrusive] for us, but at the same time I’m absolutely sure that it will be an incredible result for the movie.”

Pitt, Idris and other personnel, plus the cars, are likely to be kept out of shot of the actual TV coverage as much as possible, although will be clearly visible to those at the track.

Damson Idris F1 British GP

When the formation lap begins the APX cars, driven by professionals, will follow the 20 F1 competitors, but this should only be brief before they exit the track.

This process is understood to have been practiced several times to ensure it can be conducted with no disruption to the race itself, and can be quickly cleaned up if either car stalls or suffers a problem.

Interference has been kept to a minimum between the production crew and F1 personnel, although the garage set-up was open to view on Thursday.

F1 APXGP garage

Filming has taken place on- and off-track through the event, with the full pitwall (equipped with genuine telemetry from 2022) and hospitality unit among the functioning props.

One repeated observation in the paddock this week has been that the fictional F1 team has a better garage set-up than some real ones.

This was originally made as a light-hearted comment from Norris, when he said he was “kind of jealous of some of the things that they’ve got”.

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur, who previously led the Sauber team while it was being rebuilt from near-financial ruin, said that the equipment is top of the line.

F1 APXGP garage

“The job done on the car is amazing,” he said.

“I’m not an expert of all these things but when you go into the garage, you have the feeling that it’s a proper F1 team, and even better than some teams.

“It’s amazing what they did and I hope that it will be at the level expected, because it would be a huge push for F1.”

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