Jerry Bruckheimer And Joseph Kosinski On ‘F1’: Filming At Grand Prix, The Bottom Line On The Budget, How Lewis Hamilton Helped Steer The Project And His Take On Brad Pitt’s Driving

EXCLUSIVE: Jerry Bruckheimer and Joseph Kosinski worked together on Top Gun: Maverick and the pair have re-teamed for Apple Original Films’ F1. They won’t be getting airborne this time but are applying high-octane lessons gleaned from their previous effort as they buckle up for the motor-racing movie.

The film is made in partnership with Formula 1 and its 10 teams, which means access to the paddock and tracks and effectively becoming embedded to the extent that director Kosinski says: “We’re the eleventh team.”

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Brad Pitt stars as a former driver who returns to Formula 1 in the movie, alongside Damson Idris as his teammate at the fictional APXGP team. Real F1 drivers will feature and the picture will, Bruckheimer says, incorporate events from F1 races.

Nothing in F1 is cheap and the film comes with a hefty price tag. As the strikes caused a scheduling pit-stop, reports said the budget was swelling to $300 million. The team, however, dispute both that number and that the strikes meant reshoots were needed.

RELATED: Jerry Bruckheimer On Future Fifth Film, ‘Top Gun 3’ & Reviving Box Office: “The Audience Is There”

Warner Bros. landed the distribution deal for F1 and the pic’s release date is June 27, 2025 in North America and June 25, 2025 abroad. A teaser trailer dropped today.

Kosinski directs from Ehren Kruger’s script and produces alongside Bruckheimer. They are in the U.K. to shoot at iconic racetrack Silverstone. Ahead of the British Grand Prix they sat down with Deadline for an exclusive Q+A.

Brad Pitt, and Damson Idris, co-star, walk on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 9, 2023 in Northampton, England.
(L-R) Brad Pitt and Damson Idris at the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain in July 2023

DEADLINE: Making a movie is complicated. Formula 1 races are huge logistical undertakings. What happens when these come together?

KOSINSKI: We’ve got Brad and Damson actually driving the cars, which is pretty spectacular in itself, but to do that in front of a live audience and at the speeds they’re doing it and figuring out a way to capture it… The logistics of it are unlike anything I’ve done before. We’re shooting at the actual Grands Prix, there are certain aspects of this film where we’re working in very, very tight windows, shooting on the track, between practice and qualifying sessions, in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

DEADLINE: Seven-time F1 world champ Lewis Hamilton is a producer through his Dawn Apollo Films banner. He’s also still racing, how involved is he?

KOSINSKI: He’s the first person I contacted three years ago. I knew for us to make it as authentic as possible, someone on the team who lives it day-in and day-out would be invaluable. Lewis has been an incredible partner; he jumps on Zooms with me between races to go through the script, line by line, turn by turn, you know, tire compound by tire compound, to make sure that we are getting all the details right. Beyond that, on a creative and story level, he also has input.

BRUCKHEIMER:  It really starts with Lewis. From Lewis, we got to Mercedes, from Mercedes, we got the car; if you approach it the right way it’s not as difficult as you think. Then we went to Stefano [Domenicali, Formula One Group CEO], we went to [FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem], we went to the Principals of every team. We’ve met with all the drivers to tell them what we were doing. We met with just about everybody in Formula 1.

And we’re doing it again at Silverstone, starting all over again and telling them exactly why we’re back. Because of the strike and we couldn’t get all the footage.

DEADLINE: You mentioned the strike hit production, how did you deal with that given the schedule was tied to shooting at real races?

BRUCKHEIMER: The strike was unfortunate for the industry, but it benefited us in a way. We only had like four days of work with the actors, and that was at Silverstone. What we did is, we had a huge second unit set up and a second unit director, but since he couldn’t work, Joe did it.

Joe did all the second unit for the movie. It’s phenomenal to get your first unit director to have his vision. Usually with second unit you’d have to reshoot a lot of stuff, you don’t get exactly what you want. We saved money by not having to reshoot things, because Joe got exactly what he wanted during that period. Now we’re back at Silverstone with the actors.

DEADLINE: Did the strike delays and disruption mean you needed to factor in reshoots?

BRUCKHEIMER: We never re-shot anything, nothing whatsoever. It’s a misnomer, a rumor that got spread. No, once the strike happened, we just focused on the cars, and focused on the driving [with the stunt drivers, not the actors]. We made a smaller unit, cut down our staff and everything to save money. And then we just carried on to all the different tracks. We basically finished all the second unit stuff.

DEADLINE: In terms of what the stars are driving, you’re using modified Formula 2 cars?

KOSINSKI: We worked with Mercedes and this was actually [team CEO, Co-Owner and Team Principal] Toto Wolff’s idea. They all complain that racing movies aren’t fast enough because usually when they build these cars, they’re movie cars. You know, they look right, but they aren’t real race cars.

At one of our first meetings, Toto said: ‘You should build this off a Formula 2 car, but make it look like a Formula 1 car,’ so it’s a Formula 2 chassis and engine. We worked closely with Mercedes and their design team and aerodynamicists to develop a custom body that resembles the latest generation Formula 1 car. They’re built specifically for this movie. They also have 15 camera mounts built into them, including the recorders and the batteries and the transmitters. They’re made for shooting movies, but they are fundamentally race cars.

BRUCKHEIMER: The most important thing is you tell a great story and an emotional story, that’s always the priority, but going back to the first conversations with Lewis, he said that there has yet to be a film that really captures what it’s like to be in a Formula 1 car, so that’s been a goal, to put the audience in one of these incredible machines.

DEADLINE: What did Lewis make of the stars when they got into the cars?

BRUCKHEIMER: Before the strike we trained Brad for almost three months — Brad and Damson — in various cars. They started in Formula 3 and then moved up to Formula 2. Lewis says they’re really terrific; they’re just natural, natural athletes. He was really impressed with them, with their driving.

DEADLINE: Have you used or created new tech or techniques to capture the footage you need?

KOSINSKI: At this level of performance, yes. We have bespoke cameras for this that are very small and light so that they don’t impede the performance of the car too much and that’s key because you don’t want to have a race car and then put 200 pounds of gear on it. Our camera mounts were designed with Mercedes as well. The cameras are specially designed by Sony.

It’s the next generation from what we did on Top Gun. Everything is much smaller and the big innovation that is that we’re now able to control the movement of the cameras on the cars. We’re not locked into these kinds of fixed positions we had on Top Gun. Now we have real-time control of panning and focusing them while shooting through a very extensive RF network that we’ve built around the tracks.

DEADLINE: You embed yourselves at the racetracks and are shooting while races are happening. How does that ramp up pressure to get the shots you need first time?

KOSINSKI: Last year, at Silverstone, we had a scene we shot on the grid. I think we had something like nine minutes to shoot a one, or one-and-a-half-page dialogue scene with three actors. It’s like a pitstop. It really brings an intensity and everyone’s leaning forward in a way that maybe you wouldn’t on a normal shoot day on a soundstage, where you’ve got 10 hours to get right. Now, when you’ve got nine minutes, with all the actors you can just see the adrenaline going beforehand and you feel that in the performances.

DEADLINE: Jerry, Joe, you say that for the last half of the season, you’re covering nine races, which tracks will we see in the movie?

KOSINSKI: Daytona 24 hours, which is obviously not Formula 1, but it’s a race we shot that will make sense when people see the movie. Then we have: Silverstone, Hungary, Spa (Belgium), Monza (Italy), Zandfoort (Netherlands), Japan, Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi and Mexico City.

DEADLINE: This is being made for Apple but will be released in Imax and movie theaters. How important was it to have that theatrical aspect given the spectacle of it all?

KOSINSKI: It’s shot for the big screen will have an IMAX version that has over an hour in full IMAX, you know, full-screen format, so you’ll get that expanded picture. We’ve always approached it as a theatrical film. As for when and where it appears downstream, I think that’s still to be determined, but the only way you’ll be able to see it when it first comes out is in theaters.

DEADLINE: Jerry, you mentioned the strike and how that affected the filming schedule. There are reports the budget will hit the $300 million mark — are they in the right ballpark?

BRUCKHEIMER: It’s completely, unfortunately, tens of millions of dollars out of whack in the wrong direction, and in the right direction for us. What people don’t realize is, first of all, we’re shooting in rebate [locations], England has a big rebate, lots of Europe has rebates and so does Abu Dhabi. It all lowers the budget. Plus, we’ve raised more money for our car [through sponsorship] than some Formula 1 teams. You take that all into consideration and it really drops that number quite a bit lower than what people would think.

DEADLINE: Let me be pushy on this, what can we say in terms of an actual number?

BRUCKHEIMER: We can’t give you a number because that’s Apple’s money and they can talk about it. But what I think you can say is it’s quite a bit lower than what’s been reported.

KOSINSKI: I’m just going to say I’m used, on a lot of the movies I’ve worked on, to having them over-reported for whatever reason, but I’ve never had an experience where they were off by this much on a film. I’m not sure where that number came from.

DEADLINE: Drive to Survive did a lot for the visibility of F1 in the U.S., but it’s not as popular as it is in other parts of the world, what does that mean for its reception domestically?

KOSINSKI: Formula 1 is kind of the pinnacle of motorsports so I think over the next year we’ll certainly try to spread the word, but ultimately, we’re making a film that if you’ve never been to a race or don’t know anything about it, you’re still going to get a great story and you’re going to learn a lot about the sport as you watch.

I’m sure people didn’t go in as experts on naval aviation in Top Gun, but as you watch the film, we made sure that you understood most importantly, the emotional stakes, but also just enough about the world so you could understand what was happening. We’re doing the same thing here.

BRUCKHEIMER: It’s the only sport where your teammate is also your competitor, and that’s great drama in itself. Just think about that; you’re fighting with your own teammate for a place on the podium. And everything we use in the movie actually happened in an F1 race. Nobody can say: ‘That would never happen.’ It happened.

For the diehards, who really know their races, they’re going to be inside a race and watch events happening that happened, from the point of view of our characters. It’s a fun magic trick to pull off, I think people will get a kick out of it.

DEADLINE: Formula 1 drivers are the movie stars of the sports world. There’s stuff out there saying Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz will be in the film — will there be other drivers in the picture?

KOSINSKI: Yes, they’re all playing themselves. We’re just embedding into this world, so the drivers are who they are in these races [in the movie]. We’re the eleventh team, we’re the back of the pack in an incredible field of teams. We see the drivers on the track and we’re hoping to see all of them off track as well.

BRUCKHEIMER: These drivers are picked because they’re phenomenal, for F1 they have got to be amazing, and they are charismatic and they’re good looking because they’re representing a brand. They’re like movie stars, it’s the same thing. There’re so many similarities to our world.

What we have to do is give the audience the emotion. Look at Top Gun: Maverick with all the flying and all the great stuff Joe did — if we didn’t have that emotional story, they wouldn’t have lined up to see the movie, or have seen it two or three times. We’re going to try to do the same thing here.

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