Formula 1: Drive To Survive
Welcome to Race Watch, a supplementary feature running alongside my blog designed for me to project any opinions that may have arisen from the motorsport events I viewed over the previous weekend.
I’ll admit it, I binged Netflix this weekend. However, thanks to this blog, I can claim it was productive for once! After all, you’re probably aware that Drive To Survive 2 was released on Friday.
Following on from the success of the first season, which brought us newfound cult heroes (Guenther Steiner), tense inter-team relations (Renault and Red Bull), and precious insight into some of the previously hidden aspects of a Grand Prix weekend (team meetings etc), the second iteration of the series was hotly anticipated by many.
For the second series, Mercedes and Ferrari had joined the fun, meaning all ten teams were set to be featured for the first time. As a result, we had the added storyline of the title fight to count on, mixing in with the established plots of the midfield fight and the struggles of Williams. Naturally, the 2019 F1 season threw up many talking points of its own along the way, with the merciless demotion of Pierre Gasly from Red Bull during the summer break, the intense rivalry between Sebastian Vettel and his new teammate Charles Leclerc, and the mystery that was the (lack of) performance of the Haas. So. How did Netflix do? These are my opinions on what Netflix got right, and what missed the mark in Drive To Survive 2:
Following Haas: Whilst the calamitous nature of the Haas team was a welcome narrative during the first season of DTS, with expletive-laden team principal Steiner becoming one of the most popular members of the paddock as a result, I felt this particular team were given far too much airtime second time around, particularly when considering the lack of screen-time other teams/drivers were given. None of the antics portrayed over the course of the first two episodes (with the team featuring heavily during episode 1 and then becoming the main subject of episode 2) felt fresh, as the constant ranting of the boss and scapegoating of driver Romain Grosjean had all been done in the first season. Last year, the novelty and unexpectedness of the whole situation made the woes of the team entertaining, however knowing what to expect this year meant the whole situation felt like a stale imitation, with precious little new drama (Rich Energy aside). My opinion: about as entertaining as last year’s French GP.
Following Mercedes: Arguably the most anticipated episode of the series was handled perfectly in my eyes. The interviews with Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton really showed their human sides, which most fans don’t see on a day-to-day basis, and the way the production team highlighted just how much the late Niki Lauda had affected the team was awesome. To top it all off, the turmoil of the German GP itself really added to the drama of the whole episode, whilst simultaneously enabling the audience to gain valuable insight into how the strongest team on the grid overcomes its weaknesses. My opinion: Get in there Netflix! Fantastic episode mate.
Following Red Bull: Splitting the most controversial talking point of the season across two episodes was a brilliant idea by the production team behind DTS, as it really gave us a proper, in-depth view at the whole situation surrounding the mid-season Red Bull driver swap. With episode 5 featuring the plight of Pierre Gasly in comparison to teammate Max Verstappen, it was clear to see that a lack of confidence was adversely affecting Gasly’s performance, and a removal from the high-pressure Red Bull team was necessary. Episode 6, on the other hand, was largely positive, depicting Alex Albon’s rise into F1 in spite of his personal circumstances in earlier life. Of course, not all of episode 6 was uplifting, as Spa was the setting for the tragic death of Anthoine Hubert, a driver who seemed destined for the heights of Formula 1, yet was taken from us due to a horrendous incident, of which nobody was to blame. On the whole, though, I felt the Red Bull driver-swap episodes were some of the best in the series. My opinion: Not a dull moment, just like a 5-year-old after a can of Red Bull. Not that I’ve ever given a 5-year-old a can of Red Bull, honest.
Following Hulkenberg and Williams: I’ve decided to group these subplots together as neither situation was comfortable for those involved. The whole Hulkenberg drama was very awkward, particularly with the Hulk-Abiteboul plane debacle showing the clear tensions between characters during a period when they both know what’s going to happen, despite the outcome not being finalised. The Williams situation, however, was bordering on comical. The confidence pre-season that very quickly disappeared was illustrated expertly, whilst the true extent of their issues was truly eye-opening. I feel these two episodes really showed the value that Netflix adds to the F1 story, as the majority of the information within these two episodes was not previously in the public domain. This meant that even the most informed F1 fan gained some valuable new knowledge from the series. My opinion: So good I don’t even have a pun for it…
On the whole, I felt that Netflix did a brilliant job at covering the content they chose. I feel that they certainly missed out on a few opportunities, as more airtime for fan favourites Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris may have been welcome, whilst I also think that the Ricciardo vs Sainz battle should’ve been more Renault-Mclaren focused rather than driver-centric. Hats off to the production team, though, for creating another scintillating series surrounding the sport so many of us love.
What are your opinions? How much of the series have you watched so far, and which bit’s been your favourite? Let me know in a comment below!