Start Your Engines: It’s Time to Get Revved Up for F1

But any blockbuster of this scope needs a hook, and F1 has a pretty big one, in the form of Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton as its lead creative advisor. Imagine Michael Jordan shepherding a big budget NBA movie and you’re in the ballpark (carpark?).

As he revealed to GQ in April, Hamilton had actually been in touch with Tom Cruise for a full decade, after Cruise reached out, first as a fan and eventually as a potential collaborator (liking Formula One before it was cool being one of the many things Cruise could boast about). Often sending Hamilton encouraging texts before and after races, Cruise had invited Hamilton to visit the set of Edge of Tomorrow and had even reserved a speaking role for Hamilton in Top Gun: Maverick, which Hamilton ended up not being able to accept because of his F1 schedule.

Hamilton, displaying an almost-unheard of level of humility for someone so successful in his chosen field, says he would’ve wanted to at least take an acting class first. That wasn’t required for his role as technical advisor on F1 (though IMDB suggests he does have a cameo), in which he told GQ his job was “to try to call BS. ‘This would never happen.’‘This is how it would be.’ ‘This is how it could happen.’ Just giving them advice about what racing is really about and what, as a racing fan, would appeal and what would not.”

Difficult to say just from a teaser how successful Hamilton was in the herculean task of grounding a Jerry Bruckheimer production in reality, but his influence is obvious just from the plot. Where Hamilton was the first black Formula One superstar, F1 sees Brad Pitt’s character brought on to mentor a young black driver played by Idris, who already has a cult following the latter’s star turn in FX’s Snowfall.

Hamilton also gets points for being a visionary, predicting all the way back in 2011 that it was going to take a high profile movie to get Formula One to break into the mainstream consciousness in North America. To be fair it turned out to be a Netflix docuseries that did it, but now Hamilton is in a place to put his money where his mouth was, guiding the highest-profile Formula One racing movie to date (with all due respect to Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth, and Driven with Sly Stallone).

Hamilton claims to have seen them all and taken notes, even professing his life for Michael Mann’s Ferrari (which this writer thought could’ve used less unintelligible accents and more cars you could actually tell apart from one another). It’s still very early days, but F1 at least offers the promise of being a racing movie combining the blockbuster glitz of Days of Thunder with the gravitas of Ferrari.

“Could I look at [Ferrari] and say this could be done better? Of course,” Hamilton, who now drives for Ferrari, told GQ. “Capturing racing is really, really difficult, and I don’t think anyone’s been able to really capture it in a way that brings the adrenaline you have as a racing driver. You should see some of the cameras that Joe is able to use. He’s a visionary.”

Color us excited. It’s going to be a long 11 months.

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