It is around 4,947 miles from Stevenage to Eddie V’s Prime Seafood restaurant in downtown Austin, Texas, and a seat next to Brad Pitt.
That is where Hertfordshire-born Lewis Hamilton found himself on Thursday night, a Hollywood superstar for company in the poshest steakhouse in the state capital, as Formula One’s top brass hatched their next major screen blockbuster: a movie starring Pitt, 58, as a washed-up driver turned team owner who returns to the cockpit; Hamilton, 37, will act as co-producer and consultant.
It is hoped it will build on Netflix’s Drive to Survive series, which has drawn in a new audience who now understand that what happens on track is only a fraction of what this sport is about.
Lewis Hamilton is set to co-produce a film about F1 alongside legendary actor Brad Pitt, 58
The film will star Pitt as a former racer turned team owner who returns to the cock pit
Which brings us back to Eddie V’s on 5th Street, where a 32oz tomahawk prime long bone ribeye costs $160. Vegan Lewis was forced off-menu for his supper.
Well, what a parade it was to the private dining room at the bustling restaurant, a favourite haunt of the principal figures on the annual trip here.
The invite list told of how important this putative movie is to all concerned: On the other side of Hamilton sat Greg Maffei, America chief executive of Formula One’s owners Liberty Media.
Greg Maffei (left), America chief executive of Formula One’s owners Liberty Media and F1 boss Stefano Domenicali (right) were in attendance
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff (above), Hamilton’s father Anthony and step-mother Linda were also involved
Also in attendance were F1 boss Stefano Domenicali, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, Hamilton’s father Anthony and step-mother Linda.
Hamilton made a speech that was greeted with warm applause and then they tucked in.
The film that goes under the working title Formula One, it can be revealed, will involve all the teams in real-life action at grands prix – an idea discussed when Domenicali and Pitt watched Top Gun: Maverick together in London earlier this year.
Pitt was in attendance ahead of the US Grand Prix in Texas
It will be aired on Apple TV, who announced in June they had landed the rights for $140million (£125m), and directed by Joseph Kosinski, who was in charge of the latest Top Gun movie.
He was also present at dinner. Hamilton has already revealed that he will not have an on-screen part.
A weekend crowd of 440,000 is expected here at the Circuit of the Americas, 15 miles south-east of downtown.
Those figures reveal the increasing hold Formula One has in the States, where they have hitherto proved slow to warm to what they saw as a largely European distraction.
Miami came on to the roster this year, an extravagance that Domenicali and Co aim to eclipse when the cars roar down the Las Vegas Strip on November 18 next year.
No driver has won the American Grand Prix more times than Hamilton’s record six victories
Hamilton has won the American Grand Prix on a record six occasions, once in Indianapolis and five times in Austin, but he is battling his machinery this time. Nevertheless, he was buoyant as he spoke a few hours before his dinner appointment.
‘I’m very happy just being in the States,’ said the Mercedes man and new co-owner of the Denver Broncos. ‘This track is special. Considering it’s a newer circuit, it’s one of the best.
‘And they just do it differently here, right? We Europeans are good at sports but there are things we’ve learned through the partnership with Liberty. The sport is growing in terms of how we put on the show.’
Hamilton has not won this season, having uniquely done so in every previous year of his career, but a glimmer of hope may reside in Mercedes’ extensive upgrades.
Hamilton is at risk of losing his amazing record of winning a race in every single season
‘We’ve had expectations in the past – “Oh, this is going to bring a tenth,” and then we struggle to extract that,’ he said. ‘So I’m of an open mind.’
The FIA, meanwhile, have dispensed with race director Eduardo Freitas for the remainder of the season and changed their rules after sending out a crane during the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix.
In a tacit admission of failure, a report into the race on October 9 concluded that a recovery vehicle, which narrowly missed Frenchman Pierre Gasly, will no longer be allowed on track until all the cars are grouped behind the safety car.
And rather than alternating race directorship with Freitas, German Niels Wittich will officiate the four remaining races.