Netflix "Drive to Survive"

Netflix F1 series gets rave reviews from fans on social media

2019 F1 season

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Has Formula 1 Management succeeded in presenting the sport to a new generation of fans with its Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’?

The initial feedback from viewers on social media has been overwhelmingly positive. Fans praised the unfettered behind-the-scenes access, the candid footage of drivers and team bosses at work, and the new insights it offered into several of the sport’s personalities.

Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen are among the drivers who feature prominently in the series.

However several fans did remark on how little coverage the series gave to the championship fight between Mercedes and Ferrari. Both teams refused to allow Netflix’s crew the same access they enjoyed to the other eight teams.

Read RaceFans’ reviews of all 10 episodes – with spoilers hidden by default – here:

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F1 fans feedback on Drive to Survive

Series highlights

Mercedes and Ferrari missed out

Netflix "Drive to Survive"
Red Bull and seven other teams allowed Netflix access – Mercedes and Ferrari didn’t

But not everyone is impressed

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2019 F1 season

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Author information

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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37 comments on “Netflix F1 series gets rave reviews from fans on social media”

  1. I was neither here nor there on it. It was nice to have some Formula One content to pass the time before this weekend, but it was all a little too contrived in many places for my liking. The ridiculous sound effects they added just made my skin crawl (extra “skid” sounds, the driver heavy breathing before the lights go out or while overtaking etc.).

    I see what they’re trying to do with it and appreciate that the truth has to be extended to the maximum for cinematic effect; but as a die-hard, it bothered me a little in places. With free-to-air options worldwide getting less common, this is the only way that Formula One can speak to a new generation of fans. Young fans won’t stumble across live Formula One while channel hopping anymore, but they may well have watched this (if they’re old enough for the swearing!) and become hooked. If so, then brilliant and the documentary has served a purpose.

    The insights to specific drivers and stories were interesting, particularly the Ricciardo/Red Bull and Haas storylines. On the flipside though, I did find it a little boring and slow in places.

    All in all, certainly worth a watch, but I didn’t feel as excited by it as some people did.

    1. @ben-n: You’re very diplomatic. I’m appointing you as my diplomacy adviser, before I go off the deep end slagging on it.

      IMO, it was terrible for existing F1 fans and totally deceitful to newbies. While Liberty must be excited to see the hollywooding of F1, this format could have been used for Crashcar or Indy or [Your Generic Racing Series Goes Here].

      The series producers didn’t explain why F1 is special – the hows and why of bespoke engineering. Why are these 20 drivers regarded as the best in the world (pay drivers excluded). Instead they just smash smash boom boomed into the faux drama of clashing drivers. With a little sociopathic team principal spice on top.

      While many want more teams in F1, Netflix cuts the field. At the wrong end. Merc and Ferrari declined to be involved in the Netflix reality tv series. Only wish the other 8 teams had the dignity to do the same.

      1. @jimmi-cynic I can understand how many passionate F1 lovers feels about the series, but the moment some friends texted me to say “I watched the Netflix series and now I’m hooked! Tell me more about F1” I thought that Netflix actually nailed it.

        I mean, it is much more dramatic than it was in “real time”, but the 2018 season really offered all that drama. They did their work, they highlighted it. OK, the sound isn’t real, but the images are. And the voices and emotions are, too. Of course they put accents where they needed to, after all it’s a TV series, not a documentary.

        The key is the suspension of disbelief: if you watch the series from an expert standpoint, you’ll never enjoy it. Simply put, it isn’t Formula 1. It’s a story, made with other purposes. You have to suspend your critical side to enjoy the show.

        What was the purpose? To popularize F1 and to entertain, IMHO. If my little circle of acquaintances has any statistical meaning, they nailed the first and if my taste means something they nailed the second too.

    2. @ben-n I can live with the special added sound effects, actually I liked them if I’m honest, they were fun. the only thing that really grated for me was the (presumably) fake live commentary (“and Sainz has beaten his fellow Spaniard Alonso to 7th place!!!! Astounding!!!!!” or whatever it was) mixed in with real commentary from the races. Obviously the absence of Ferrari and Mercedes makes the entire series lopsided, but then the media attention is usually mostly on them, so it felt like a counterbalance at least. It’s not exactly revolutionary documentary stuff, but in terms of reanimating F1, it’s surely a success.

  2. I loved it and really enjoyed the insight and rawness of the paddock.

    I must add, Horner makes a fantastic villain :D

    1. I’m living it as well.
      Not seen the whole series yet as I’m dosing it until Friday.

      However several fans did remark on how little coverage the series gave to the championship fight between Mercedes and Ferrari.

      That’s the strength of this series. It’s all those other stories which are now made prominent, and each being an interesting one the way it is presented by Netflix. It’s also great that they stayed away from the chronological order of the season. Each episode contains 2-3 stand alone stories covering the relevant periods, races, and people.
      If I wanted to revisit the championship race then I would have bought the usual end of season DVD (so little interested that I didn’t even check if one was issued last season)

    2. Much as Lawrence Stroll to Claire Williams throughout the robotic ken doll acting like of Lance.

  3. A colleague at work love it – wasn’t an F1 fan but it was enough to convince him to start following some races.

    If there are more out there like that then mission accomplished for those who put it together, I would say!

    For me, it was ok. A little bit of a remedial education in many parts but it also had some genuinely enlightening insights – e.g. the dynamic between Horner and Abiteboul.

    1. I laughed when Abiteboul told Horner something to the effect of “now you need an engine AND a driver!”. No love lost between those two.

      I think this series was well done. Not perfect, but pulling back the curtain on our sport is always welcome in my opinion. I hope it wasn’t just a one-time thing!

  4. It does seem like a winner for Liberty in particular – seeing the interest that non-F1 fans have shown in it.
    If it does frustrate current fans for its contrived drama, but brings in new fans, I think Liberty will view that as a perfectly acceptable compromise.

    1. I dont understand whos the target audience. If you’re new to F1 then you will not understand it from the get go. Especially the opening is very poor. I’ve tried it on partners and friend who do not get F1 and they were bored after 10 mins. If you’re a fan, nothing new will be shown. I literally do not know what ai’ve watching and whom its for

  5. I have only seen the first 2 episodes since, for me, it all seemed a bit fake and over-the-top dramatic. Cearly made by someone looking at the world throught american hyperbolic filter. I could not watch it. It was almost as if the “drama” was the center element and the racing was a distraction. ex: Sainz being a lifelong Alonso fan and finally getting to race his idol.

    I suspect Sainz Junior has a certain other Spanish Motorsport idol in even higher regard, and they share a bit of DNA here and there. Then there’s the whole Renault vs. McLaren, in 2018. Anyone who knows anything of Team’s power balances is mostly annoyed by the fakeness of the “drama”.

    Ant then there is the constant back-and-forth from winter testing to whatever GP is in the episode, and slight hints of SJW propaganda, which I have also noticed during the live races.

    Americans are ruining F1, can’t believe I am saying it, bring back Bernie!

    1. I am Guessing that Sainz Jnr Genuinely did hold his Father in high regard. However he probably barely remembers his fathers efforts as he would have been too young. Alonso was in F1 during Sainz Jnrs most formative years in motorsport and I can’t see why it is hard to believe that he was a major hero to him. That drama is real and not contrived at all? I mean I can not imagine how I would have felt if I got to race against Senna, Mansell or Prost while they were still in professional racing!

      I am loving the series and the “Contrived Drama” that people seem to be complaining about seems a little off as to me it is more Enhanced Drama rather than Contrived. F1 is full of drama and that is what many fans love about it. However F1 documentaries are often quite dry and rarely get this drama across at all. I watched the Grand tours mini film about Jim Clark and it was fascinating. It was enhanced by the artistic effects and was the better for it. If it was just the story told by a monotone voice then it would not have been as good.

      1. I agree with all of what you said!

    2. I thought your criticisms (minus the Saint one, but lee1 already covered that) were all perfectly valid until you brought up SJW propaganda and ended it with “bring back Bernie!” Then you lost all credibility.

      1. Grid Girls being banned was the final straw, the camel’s parents were against vaxxination, and so it’s back was not strong enough to carry american identity politics. I predict it will be a rapid downhill from here onwards. Pay attention to the races this year and notice the subtle hints.

        Do yourself a favor and memorize the part you quoted, and make it your mantra when the “W-Series” injects it’s first diversity driver into F1.

  6. Mercedes are the new Ferrari, and Ferrari are still Ferrari. Not only on the media approach but on track as well. Does that make sense?

    1. Absolutely

    2. You’re ill advised to milk them; being bullies they won’t give you what you’re expecting ;)
      @johnmilk

      1. @coldfly the bullies usually end up serving milkshakes, that what american movies taught me at least

  7. I’ve been really enjoying it, and was expecting it to have a good impac t on casual and new fans.

    The thing I think I liked best is how they really took the political drama, owned it, and made it a feature. For me, this is crucial to formula one (and I know many will disagree). If I want pure on-track action (and I do) I watch F3. F1 is a soap opera, and a much more long term investment as a viewer.

    Now of course I’d love to see closer racing. And a closer championship with better revenue structures. But the politics between and within teams is actually an integrall part of our sport that we shouldn’t shy away from.

    As for Ferrari and Mercedes absence… honestly, somebody else said it here recently too and I agree, it was better without them. And a good reminder for the people approaching the negotiating table in the coming months that we can make a fantastic “spectacle” with or without their input.

    1. Great comment!

  8. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    12th March 2019, 13:30

    I binge watched this at the weekend and thought it was thoroughly entertaining. The misplaced dramatics where a bit jarring having followed the season, but this is easily forgivable if it helps bring a new batch of fans to the sport.
    Already looking forward to the next seasons, and think Ferrari and Merc will be convinced to join this time after seeing the end product.

  9. I don’t blame Mercedes for not being part of it. It would be a massive PR disaster to see Toto saying “Lewis, we’ve already been through this! You’re not getting paid unless you go out there and say Ferrari are faster than us!”

    Ferrari wouldn’t even talk to the press last year, nevermind Netflix so I’m not surprised they didn’t get involved.

  10. Its not that bad.

  11. I enjoyed the series for what it is. The facts in some episodes were definitely moved in and out of context, creating some dramatic replays, but blurring the larger perspective. I was confused on the producer’s selection of those moments, when there were so many others to choose from that played out in real time. To their credit they did pick some good ones, like Daniel’s epic pass happy Hungarian GP (I loved that) and the Red Bull clash in Baku.

    Aside from that, the series reinforced my choice of favorite drivers. But also my furthered my distaste of other shark-like characters in the business. This is mainly why I enjoyed it.

  12. I would like to have one of these shows the monday morning after every race weekend. That is the way Liberty can attract new fans.

    1. They use to have a short video after each weekend with the highlights. I really enjoyed those and the production was top notch. Sadly they stopped making them.

  13. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
    12th March 2019, 14:58

    It was a bit over dramatic but it was good overall. After seeing the Charles episode, I would want him to win the title to honor Jules and his father tbh.

  14. Didn’t do much for me at all – ended up skipping through some parts.

    Can’t stand things being made much more dramatic than they actually were (sound effects, reactions etc), but I can see how it might get very casual fans or people who’ve never watched F1 excited.

  15. I ultimately think that Mercedez and Ferrari not participating is only detrimental to their own brands. Seeing the acceptance this series is having outside of the regular F1 crowd makes me think they missed out on a lot of free advertising.

    Red Bull, as usual, being the masterminds of marketing saw the opportunity and took it.

  16. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, especially the Force India story line. I hope that Ocon is able to capitalize on this.

    1. I also thought the way that the filmmakers presented Nico’s story in ep. 9 was interesting. Nico’s performance may have been overshadowed by Kimi’s performance in the media on that day, but Liberty has made up for that here.

  17. All I want to know is if there is official confirmation of season 2?

  18. Felt it was a bit underwhelming given the “unfettered access” they supposedly had…but that said I can appreciate the programme was never commissioned for diehards like myself. If it grows the casual audience, great, but compared to the likes of the Man City “All or Nothing” series, I feel there’s a lot more that could have been done to bring the viewer on a journey of an F1 championship.

  19. I really enjoy it – it gives a good insight in some of what I miss when watching and reading about F1. Its not perfect, but it is a perfect start and I’m now looking much more forward to the season, because of this Netflix series – and I’ve only seen the first 3.

  20. Didn’t do much for me.

    I can see VERY casual fans and those that have never watched F1 getting excited about overly dramatic slow mos, fake sound effects and gasping reactions, but I think actual F1 fans would find it quite amusing.

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