Guenther Steiner, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

“They wanted the real thing”: The F1 verdict on Netflix

2019 F1 season

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“Drive to Survive”, the Netflix on Formula 1, launches on the streaming platform in one hour’s time.

To create the series Netflix was given unique access to eight of the 10 Formula 1 teams. Ferrari and Mercedes refused to participate.

But those who did work with Netflix were largely complimentary about the experience and gave a positive initial impression of the series and its likely effect on F1.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner features prominently in several episodes including the first, where he is seen explaining to team owner Gene Haas why both the team’s cars retired from strong positions in the race. Although he hasn’t watched the series yet, he said he was happy to be shown speaking frankly about his team’s failure in the race.

“They asked me ‘are you OK with that?’ I said ‘if I said it I’m not not accusing anybody, it’s just self-criticism’. I’m not pointing at a person.”

Steiner said it was important F1 allowed the programme makers to give an authentic impression of the sport. “If they want to make something you have to be real,” he said.

“Otherwise what are we making? I think the people which did it are very good. You could immediately see they knew what they’re doing, what they wanted. They wanted the real thing and they were very clever about it, how to get the real thing.

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“And that’s what they should be because in the end to make a bad movie there is no point because then we lose fans. For me is like helping along, if people see it and we get more fans and people watching us that’s what you’ll want, in my opinion.”

However Steiner admitted he had reservations about letting his 10-year-old daughter see – and here – his occasional four-letter rants in the programme. “I will be questioned because we always tell her ‘don’t say them’, and daddy says them on TV.”

Daniel Ricciardo also features prominently in the first episode and several others. He was filmed at his homes in Australia and Monaco for the series.

“Whenever people are getting more personal information about you, being a fly on the wall, coming out to Perth or in your apartment in Monaco and actually seeing your surroundings, you want to be comfortable with the people behind the camera and running the project. So that was the first thing.

“I thought they were always real respectful, never pushed, it was always on our terms which was good. I think that’s just important that you get on with the people behind it.”

Ricciardo said he hopes F1’s presence on Netflix, which has over 139 million subscribers, helps the sport find a new audience.

“I think it’s gonna be cool just generally, not just for me but for F1. I think to have more of a presence like that, someone in a small town in the States or somewhere, wherever they are in the world can watch it and then get an actual understanding of a bit more about the sport. I think that’s really good for just F1 globally.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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17 comments on ““They wanted the real thing”: The F1 verdict on Netflix”

  1. Question from a NetFlix newbie – is it possible to watch this on-demand in some way, or do you need a NetFlix subscription? I have Amazon Prime and have never seen it as economical to get a NetFlix subscription, but I’m interested in watching this.

    1. You can usually get a 1 month free trial of Netflix. Just cancel before you have to pay the subscription for month 2 …

    2. @exediron as said, you should be able to have 1 month free. Worst case, you can subscribe for just 1 month and then cancel.

    3. If you have a friend or family member that has Netflix subscription, just get the login information from them. My entire family mooches off my youngest brother. It’s quite funny actually.

  2. I lost it in episode 2 when the McLaren boss suspects Grojean won’t get out of the first corner! And then he does in the third :D “I told you he won’t”..

  3. I read Grosjean is a punching bag in the series. Hope he gets a redemption arc.

  4. I know what I’ll be watching tomorrow.

  5. I genuinely think things like the Netflix TV series could be a gateway for new fans, it’s hard to get into a Sport unless you are invested in it by knowing a driver/team and wanting to see them succeed.

    1. Absolutely. I’m a semi serious, semi casual fan, and I’m getting a much greater insight into the behind the scenes with this series than I’ve ever gotten from the indulgent yet pointless artsy pieces they always make for the TV F1 coverage on Sky or Channel 4 or whatever. Interviews with drivers and team leaders where it’s all just PR fluff. It’s a shame we can’t get this sort of coverage actually live through the season but obviously that’s understandable why we don’t get such behind the scenes action in the heat of the moment.

      This series is great and it’s making me more excited for F1.

      One thing though, I’ve been right about Grosjean for a long time, probably since he nearly decapitated Alonso at Spa, the guy just shouldn’t be in this sport. He’s a nice guy but he’s so negative and on edge and he just can’t hack the pressure, clearly.

  6. JohnnyRye (@)
    8th March 2019, 15:18

    Here or hear?

    1. You heard it here.

  7. “And that’s what they should be because in the end to make a bad movie there is no point because then we lose fans. For me is like helping along, if people see it and we get more fans and people watching us that’s what you’ll want, in my opinion.”

    You know what’s a sure way to ger more people watching?

    Having less races, in less TV territories, behind a paywall.

  8. I doubt that Daniel ever said “gonna”. “Gunna” yes, gonna, doubt it.
    Looking forward to the series.

  9. Having watched a few of the episodes, it really intimates some subtle insight into why Ricciardo left Red Bull, and how snakey Red Bull were in response. Horner also is revealed as a somewhat spiteful and mean character which juxtaposes the measured polite character you see in interviews. So they did do a good job of “making it real” in my opinion.

    1. Agree with that. It shows why the season ended the way it did for Daniel. He fell from all those tops at the beginning of the season to very low at the end. He wasn’t a Red Bull driver anymore after all…

    2. Yes I was thinking the same thing having just watched episode 4 in which Horner and Cyril have their awkward moments. I like Horner but he comes off as the lesser of the two men for me.

      It’s a great series, just a little bit over-dramatic in the way they hold their collective breath to reveal the race result at the last gasp as if every race was Brazil 2008. But that’s part of the whole deal.

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