Two Formula 1 pilots shaking hands
Image credit: Netflix Press, Director: Martin Webb, Production Company: Netflix

Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 3 – Entertaining but Incomplete

Drive to Survive is back for its third season. For the first time ever DtS boasts that it follows all ten teams and all twenty drivers in Formula 1. This year the show begins with pre-season testing, before moving onto the highly anticipated first race of the season; the Australian grand prix – which does get cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. 

Thankfully for all those who are bored of the C-word, Drive To Survive only briefly mentions the repercussions of the pandemic, allowing us a glimpse into the world of team principals as the audience becomes a ‘fly on the wall’ in a zoom call with team principals at Williams, Red Bull and Renault. The revised 2020 season seems to be quickly arranged with one brief phone call between Liberty CEO Chase Carey to McLaren boss Zak Brown, before going racing once more. 

Early episodes of DtS covers the early controversy regarding Racing Point’s ‘Pink Mercedes’. An interesting move for a show that attracts new followers to the sport and demonstrates the confusing rules which sometimes do or do not exist. Alongside this, F1 fans who regularly tune in to watch the races on their television screens each weekend will no doubt notice the copy and pasting of radio messages into the action to suit the storyline. Nobody pushes hard in pre-season testing. 

Would it be Formula 1 if Red Bull wasn’t once again crucifying their second driver? This year unlucky victim is Alexander Albon. DtS follows the rumour mill of who is likely to take his place. Spoiler alert, it’s not Frenchman Pierre Gasly who was replaced mid-season by Albon in 2019 when he was under performing. Netflix spared viewers the pain of a black square stating that Alex will not be racing in the 2021 season.

Aussie favourite Daniel Riccardo makes a return throughout the series, following him on another departure from another team, this time Renault. We’re left wondering if Cyril Abiteboul is capable of compartmentalising his feelings at all as he fails to cope with the heartbreak.

The series again follows Haas and team principal Gunther Steiner as they battle against financial struggles of being a small team in F1. They need funding and the only answer seems to be replacing both current drivers with rookies for the 2021 season. Whilst such a heavy presence is made by Haas in the series, there is no reportage regarding controversial 2021 Haas driver Nikita Mazepin. Perhaps Netflix is saving that drama for 2021?

As anticipated Romain Grosjean’s crash is covered. DtS expertly captures the mood both in and out of the paddock at the time of the event. This is likely to be the first time a sporting moment as harrowing as this has been treated with such respect and humility in a documentary. 

The final few races seem to be glossed over including George Russell’s replacement of Lewis Hamilton in the second Bahrain race, despite a heavy Williams presence in the second season. But arguably the oddest part of the series is the lack of coverage regarding the We Race As One and the Black Lives Matter movements which featured regularly at each race. Instead, it is left to Lewis Hamilton, alone, in the final five minutes of the final episode. 

For a community that waited over 200 days for a race due to a global pandemic, DtS is a welcome fix of content, but like the sport itself, it is not without its faults. Ten episodes work when you’re only following a small number of drivers and teams but as witnessed by the over-dramatisation, the events that remain untold and the drivers who lack screen time, Netflix may have bitten off more than they could chew this time around. 

Produced by: Box to Box Productions

As seen on: Netflix