Drive to Survive - F1 Netflix series season one episode four - The Art of War

“Drive to Survive Episode 4: The Art of War” reviewed

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Netflix’s new series on F1 reaches a peak in its fourth episode, which tells the story of the break-up between Red Bull and engine supplier Renault, and Daniel Ricciardo’s shock decision to jump ship from the former to the latter.

Ricciardo’s bombshell move was, of course, revealed by RaceFans last August. For dramatic purposes Netflix introduce it into the storyline through what we’re apparently supposed believe is an authentic radio news report*: “Hang on a minute, Daniel Ricciardo is not re-signing for Red Bull…”

This is the only duff moment in an otherwise great episode which blends paddock intrigue and some of the best fly-on-the-wall footage Netflix shot during its year in the paddock.

The Ricciardo revelation comes at the end of an episode which otherwise revolves around the pitiless rivalry between Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul. You’ll have to watch the episode or hit the spoiler section below for the juicy quotes, but suffice to say Horner delights in turning the screw on his opposite number, who responds in kind when events turn in his favour.

As so much of the episode revolves around Red Bull’s decision to split from Renault, it’s surprising that no mention at all is made of their simultaneous move to partner with Honda. References to the Japanese manufacturer were conspicuously absent from the second episode as well, leaving one to wonder whether they, like Ferrari and Mercedes, also chose not to participate in the Netflix project.

With prominent appearances in three of the first four instalments, Ricciardo has emerged as the star of this show in a way Lewis Hamilton would surely have enjoyed, had Mercedes allowed Netflix’s cameras near him. Still it’s hard to imagine Hamilton treating his team to an improvised song about his scrotum, as Ricciardo does at the beginning of this episode.

But the jovial atmosphere disappears in the final minutes after Ricciardo has gone public with his decision. We see him literally ‘taking the plunge’ as he tells us why he’s switching to Renault. There is unmistakable tension behind the scenes as he meets up with his team for the first time afterwards at the Belgian Grand Prix.

While earlier episodes attempt to juggle two storylines with mixed success, “The Art of War” benefits from sticking to a single theme. But it’s the take-no-prisoners dialogue between Horner and Abiteboul which makes this the pick of the 10 episodes in this first series of “Drive to Survive”. Don’t miss it.

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Drive to Survive Episode : – Spoilers

Red Bull announced their decision to split from Renault five days before the French Grand Prix, in a move which was clearly designed to maximise the embarrassment for their former supplier. In the unlikely event Abiteboul missed that point, Horner rams it home when they meet ahead of the official FIA press conference, asking him: “All your bigwigs here this weekend?”

Netflix’s cameras zoom in on Abiteboul’s grimacing face as Horner explains his reasoning for severing their relationship. While Abiteboul plays down the financial implications of losing Red Bull’s engine payments, the cameras pick up Horner gesturing that Renault have lost a huge source of income.

After gaining his revenge by pinching Horner’s driver, Abiteboul gives as good as he gets. “He needs a driver and an engine,” he remarks on seeing Horner at Spa. “Got any money to spend on your engine now you’ve spent it all on your driver?” Horner fires back.

Horner saves some stick for his ex-driver as well. Referring to Ricciardo’s decision to leave Red Bull and his former team mate Max Verstappen, Horner remarks: “In the end my assumption is he was running from a fight.”

*Update: See this reply from “Drive to Survive” editor Alex Rossiter in the comments

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on ““Drive to Survive Episode 4: The Art of War” reviewed”

  1. Looks like there finally is some juice in this!

  2. treating his team to an improvised song about his scrotum, as Ricciardo does at the beginning of this episode.

    Ha ha ha, I can’t wait to see this series!

  3. Sheds some light on Renault’s vision for the future. If there is a future for Renault. They already seem to back off. The money they spend on Danny seems to overreach the budgets. So Horner has a point then.

    1. The money they spend on Danny seems to overreach the budgets.

      Based on what, godverdomme? So far, I know of exactly one person who says so, and that person happens to be Horner. He cannot prove his own point by simply saying so, at least not yet.

      1. Haha. I like it that you are working on your Dutch language.

    2. That really is nonsense “erikje”. Renault has long stated that they (much like Zak Brown mentioned for McLaren) are looking towards the longer term. They want to stay at about the level of spending / staff where they now are, because in 2 years the budget cap should gradually take the bigger spenders down to about their level.

  4. The radio news report, refereed to at the top of this article, is a genuine archive clip of a radio broadcast – it was a radio archive clip provided to us by the fantastic archive team working on this series – what fantastic research and sourcing they did. It was many months ago that this edit was first put together (by me), but I hope I remember correctly that the clip in question is taken from a BBC5 live radio broadcast.

    So that specific assertion in this article is entirely incorrect! Otherwise thanks for a fantastic and thoughtful review of episode 4.

    I am glad you enjoyed the scrotum song and I am very pleased that this made the cut!

    Kind regards,

    Alec Rossiter
    ‘F1:Drive to Survive’ editor

    …what we’re apparently supposed believe is an authentic radio news report: “Hang on a minute, Daniel Ricciardo is not re-signing for Red Bull…” This is the only duff moment…

    1. Thanks very much for getting in touch to clear that up Alec – I’ve amended the article to draw attention to your response. To my ear it sounded like something which had to have been recorded for the purpose of the show, but I’m quite happy to accept your assertion that’s not the case.

    2. Great to see this direct reaction. Good to know!

    3. @keithcollantine I’m not sure if the versions on Netflix change, but I watched it just now and the decision is revealed by Ricciardo “I’ve decided to leave Red Bull and I’ll be joining Renault for 2019.” just before he jumps off a ledge into the ocean (presumably presented as a parallel to “making the jump into the unknown”).

  5. There is absolutely no need to review each and every episode, it’s just needlessly spamming your user base.

    1. Since I have not been able to see this series, I quite enjoyed all of the solid reviews, actually ‘Xcm’!

    2. Chuck it in a torrent xcm and we’ll forego the articles.

    3. It’s a superb series, I’m happy to read the Keith’s take on each ep.

    4. If only there was some way you could scroll past the articles you don’t want to read on this site…

  6. Ruben (@stranceloll)
    8th March 2019, 20:07

    It’s kind of interesting that, while the story is staged at the Austrian GP and revolves around the potential of both Red Bull and Renault, Verstappen’s victory is completely neglected. Maybe it would make the storyline needlessly complicated..

    1. They also made it seem like Ricciardo retiring was the key moment of that race, that he ‘lost’ it there. Quite one-sided, but then they did choose to have Ricciardo as their focal point

  7. “I’m leaving sufficient space for Max”. Nuff said in this episode by Daniel.

  8. When I hear Riccardo talking about the fresh start and being able to walk into a team an adult making up his own mind, it sounds almost word for word like what Hamilton said when going from McLaren to Mercedes, for the same reasons.

    Lewis was ready to leave the nest and stand on his own, to build a team around him. He no doubt got the tour and saw what Mercedes had in the pipeline and was convinced there was a future there. He wanted to be his own man.

    I think Daniel did the same thing. You can hear it in his voice, the RB magic is gone and he’s grown sour on the team. Max being faster wasn’t the worry, it was that the team saw Max as the faster and bet big on him without also doing so with Daniel. When Horner said “I think he ran away from a fight”, I think the fact that he thinks that about Daniel is indicative of the environment he is in. Who wants to stick around for that? Who wants to drive for a team that doesn’t believe you’ll be the next world champion because they think your teammate will, even though you’ve beaten him in the points the previous couple years?

    Good on Daniel. I hope that Renault are serious and they give him the car to win with. They’ve done it before.

  9. You should have put The Scrotum Song in the spoiler section!

    I enjoy the episode recaps, and I’m enjoying the series as far as it goes. Speaking of Scrotum Songs, The tug of war between Horner and Abiteboul really read as a scrotum tug of war in this episode.

  10. Quality reply by Cyril at Horners little dig. The more I watch this series the more unprofessional Horner seems. His “lies are this big” show during the Renault RBR press conference after he dropped a bomb on Renault was pretty disgusting.

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