Verstappen’s rivals don’t share his concerns over “fake” Drive to Survive

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen’s rival Formula 1 drivers don’t share his concerns over how the sport is portrayed in Drive to Survive.

The popular Netflix series, which began in 2019, has been credited with attracting a new wave of fans to the sport, particularly in America where the championship is racing this weekend.

But Verstappen, who has criticised the series before, revealed yesterday he stopped giving interviews for the show’s producers because he believed they “would fake a lot of stuff”. Verstappen has not indicated when he ceased co-operating with the series, which is produced by Box to Box Films, but the Red Bull driver has not featured prominently in recent seasons.

However none of the drivers asked about Drive to Survive during yesterday’s pre-race FIA press conferences at Circuit of the Americas expressed similar concerns to Verstappen.

“I’m fine with it, you can choose a lot of things which almost go in and don’t go in,” said Lando Norris in response to a question from RaceFans.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Istanbul Park, 2021
Report: Verstappen refuses to participate in “fake” Drive to Survive Netflix series
“So I’m happy. I think it’s a cool thing, especially coming to America, there’s so many people which are now into Formula 1 just because of watching Drive to Survive.

“I think I’ve come across on it. I hope I don’t come across it in a bad way or an idiot or anything. But no, I think they do a good job.

“I watch it every now and then, I’ve not actually watched the whole thing or even one episode. But from my side it’s fine. I can’t really speak on behalf of Max.”

Daniel Ricciardo said the Drive to Survive production team respect drivers’ wishes when they request not to be filmed. “For sure there’s times where you want a little bit of space or privacy,” he said. “But I think if you let them know ‘no cameras in this room’ then they’re pretty good with that.

“It’s been okay,” he said. “I guess we have a bit of a different relationship with them.”

Other drivers indicated they don’t pay attention to Drive to Survive, including Fernando Alonso, who has his own documentary series on Amazon Prime. Fellow world champion Kimi Raikkonen said he has limited his participation as far as possible.

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“I don’t watch it, so I have no idea what they’ve done,” said the Alfa Romeo driver. “But I said it even to them when they were filming, as minimum as I can be a part, I’m happy about it.”

Other drivers praised the effect the show has had on the popularity of Formula 1, including Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez, who admitted he underestimated what a success it would be.

“Firstly, I really respect Drive to Survive because I think what it has done to Formula 1 is tremendous,” said Perez. “It’s really something that I appreciate. Honestly, at the beginning, I thought it was not big or important for our sport.

“Netflix has changed a lot of my life” – Ocon
“And then secondly I think it creates some drama, probably. The way they sell the sport is bit of a drama because I can imagine that it’s a show. But at the end of the day it’s good for the sport and it’s good for the fans. So I’m happy with it.”

Esteban Ocon featured heavily in the first series of Drive to Survive when he lost his seat at Racing Point to Lance Stroll, whose father purchased the team. After a year on the sidelines Ocon returned to F1 with Renault, a development he believes was aided by his appearance in Drive to Survive.

“I think Netflix has changed a lot of my life, not just the public stuff, but also in my career. It has made the [perception] of me in difficult times where I didn’t have a seat, that came out and people could actually see that I was desperate to have a drive again. That probably helped for my career to come back.”

The Alpine driver said the value of Drive to Survive is that it allows those outside the paddock to see life inside it.

“Of course it’s a big difference since Netflix has come to Formula 1 and opened it to the fans which are not the hardcore fans, but more general public that didn’t know so much about motorsport or Formula 1.

“From the outside, before, we could look quite robotic and it was a repetitive sport and we couldn’t see the characters that are inside this paddock. I just think it’s fantastic that we can see all of that now.”

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38 comments on “Verstappen’s rivals don’t share his concerns over “fake” Drive to Survive”

  1. “They must be blind or stupid”

  2. Their Netflix income may be enough for them!

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    22nd October 2021, 11:26

    Meh, Netflix has shown tiem and time again to display events in a very untrue way. No surprise the youngsters on the grid (aka the Netflix-generation) likes that because that’s what they’re used to.

    Not to mention it’s pretty obvious what side Netflix would choose as ‘good’ and which as ‘bad’ in the Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry. Verstappen would start with a -10 score already, there’s no point fighting that if they want to display you as the most terrible person that has ever lived. They did the same with Red Bull vs Mercedes and people ate it like hotcakes.

    1. VroomVroomZoom
      22nd October 2021, 19:40

      “Netflix has shown tiem and time again to display events in a very untrue way.”

      citation not found.

    2. But isn’t Verstappen (maybe at the head, but even so) also of their generation @barryfromdownunder ?

  4. Doesn’t it say it all that for Americans to like this sport they need a false narrative, sound effects and creative editing.
    And ontop of that one risks alienating the DtS audience, through disillusion.

  5. Dts is obviously to invoke a sense of drama which admittedly was needed by F1 for F1. Whether its all true (or not) is another thing. Did it do what it was supposed to do? Yes. It created interest where there was little or none. I have personal experience where a new fan went from being a rugby fan to a F1 fan. All due to DTS.

    1. You can create interest in things in many ways. Whether you keep your dignity in the process is a choice. The last series of DTS was dreadful (I got through 1 episode). How people are portrayed, especially when fabricated has consequences.

  6. When the series has an 80’s B-film title, it’s a given it’s going to be cheap Hollywood scripting with bad and good guys, which is great if you’re cast as a good guy, not if you’re a baddie. It doesn’t take much guessing what Verstappen would end up as, and it seems he’s now found out.

  7. Verstappen has already been framed as the bad guy in season 1 (against Ricciardo) and I think he doesn’t want that to happen again.

    1. Have you heard ricciardos Texan accent? impossible to frame him as the bad guy. No one can hate this guy.

  8. The rest of the drivers seem to be better trained in PR and PC culture. Anyway it’s so hard to get a real honest opinion from any of them, we live in such times… No wonder, say something “wrong” and you’ll be banned from the social media, you’ll lose sponsorship followed by your job, you may be sued from some interest group and of course you’ll be insulted for the rest of your life. In this case there’s direct income involved too, so… They learn not to mind anything really fast, they are as “woke” or whatever as it gets, but they also can’t wait to race in S. Arabia. The only time we hear something real from them is on the radio during the race, but even that is picked by the media, often taken out of context and of course said in the heat of the moment.

    1. The rest of the drivers seem to be better trained in PR and PC culture.

      you made that sound as if it is a good thing.
      To much pr puppy’s in f1.

      1. Did you read the rest of his comment? He wasn’t saying that at all

        1. it was a quote…

          1. You say it made him sound in some way, it didn’t. So you quote wrong.

          2. No wonder Tim is more tougher than you, £RiK.

    2. Some drivers are very good in platitudes, repeats, meaningless compliments, suggestive emotions, fake concern with the world, the fellow inhabitant, the animals, the refugees, the boys and girls that work so hard “back in the factory” Some drivers are well spoken, their diction is perfect, their english is home-grown and they are as dull as sand (no duller). PR is fake, it is like Not Funny Jokes and Dishonest Honestly’s. Some drivers do not mind to be manipulated, they are trained themselves in “make belief”. Drive to Surprise has never been completely honest and the best explanation in their own series of what it is to drive a formula 1 car came from the driver who does want to be depicted any longer in the series, Max Verstappen who called F1 racing: ‘Just…Confidence, Feeling..and..Rhythm’.

    3. The press doesn’t want a considered honest opinion; just a headline. That’s why certain numpties in the press poke them with a stick in the live press interviews and straight after the race in the pen when the adrenalin is still flowing to get that soundbite. And how many time this year have we heard the press take what one side of the RB/Merc divide have said and misrepresent that to the other?
      Rachel Brookes has had a number of digs at her co-commentators for doing that very thing and calling it cheap journalism. Lee Mckenzie has spoken about it a number of times as well, having advised Hamilton before he got to F1′ and others, in how to deal with the press.

  9. Max is pro wrestling.

    The others are “Sports Entertainment”.

  10. Many of these quotes don’t actually address Max’s criticism. For example, Norris seems more concerned with whether he looks good and doesn’t address the question of whether he is bothered by the falsehoods. He doesn’t actually really watch it, so does he even know what he is talking about? Ricciardo seems more concerned with privacy and not getting bothered too much while filming, not how he is portrayed. It’s a bit weird that these quotes are put at the beginning of the article and the ones that actually address some of the the same questions are nearer to the middle.

    The headline seems questionable, because Kimi does seem to support Max’s concerns.

    My conclusion from these quotes is not so much that the other drivers mostly disagree with Max, but that different drivers have very different personalities and concerns (or business interests like Fernando), so this is mostly comparing apples to oranges. It’s like juxtaposing a strident activist who opposes the keeping of animals with a ‘factory’ farmer and a person with a pet, arguing that both oppose the activists, even though the person with the pet may also agree with the farmer & in general, these people’s concerns and desires are very different. So if you ask them about ‘keeping animals’ in general, they are often going to talk past each other, unless the interviewer makes them answer the same questions.

    Also, I would expect drivers who get portrayed well (and perhaps more than they merit), to like the series. People tend to like falsehoods that are flattering or otherwise to their benefit. It’s not surprising that Max dislikes it more given the pro-Lewis/anti-Max bias in the English-speaking media.

    1. Agreed!
      But framing is the name of the game it seems.

    2. Aside from Perez to a degree, all of the interviewed in this article appear to be those that were painted the protagonist rather than the antagonist in their respective stories. Ocon was the poor lad that lost his seat to money-kid Lance Stroll and Mexican money-backed Perez. Danny was the poor guy that was bullied out of the evil empire Red Bull who favoured bad boy Verstappen over the good natured Australian. Norris was the good guy to Sainz in their faked rivalry for DTS.

      I mean, for Verstappen, there was no upside to his participation. It just made him come off poorly to fit a narrative. It’s perfectly understandable he doesn’t want to bother with it and I don’t see why anyone could blame him or why the media is making such a big deal off of it.

      I like DTS to a degree, the faked narratives are a distraction at best, and mildly aggrevating at worst. But end of day, until F1TV finally upgrades, it’s the only way to watch F1 in 4K HDR and it looks glorious and that’s maybe the only reason to watch along with a few bits of footage where they lift the curtain on backstage (factory or social) meetings, which are always interesting to see.

      1. Right If I were Perez, I would be very upset how he was portrayed.

      2. Yes, exactly. Just as Trump thinks he will come across better if he bans media outlets which portray his failings.

        1. Yes, because Verstappen is banning Drive To Survive and Netflix worldwide.

  11. Fellow world champion Kimi Raikkonen said he has limited his participation as far as possible.

    I can’t think of a more Kimi thing for him to have said. He could probably say that about all media. 😀

  12. It’s too bad as this is the greatest championship battle in a long time. Rosberg vs. Hamilton was interteam. Massa vs. Hamilton (2008) was the most memorable for me until now (singapore fuel hose, brazil final lap Glock moment). Hope they can get some of that story, and not dramatize it, it’s already pretty dramatic!

  13. Do you know why Max is more prone to accidents than other drivers?
    Because he doesn’t like looking in his mirrors…

    1. Interesting… thats the reason he has less accidents then ;)
      Looking in your mirrors means your up front. So only blue flags wil hamper you there…

      1. I can safely say that you’re not getting it!!

  14. I can only speak from the experience I got from my friends, who are now into F1 because of Drive to Survive. They were like die-hard Ocon fans and hated Perez. I kept telling them that Perez was a very good driver, deserving of a good drive, but they seemed stubborn in their views. And after watching Drive to Survive’s first few episodes myself I understood why: they are despicted in such a way that it’s not an open interpretation by the viewer.

    1. I’ve heard from multiple sources, including a driver, that Perez is arrogant and rude. Maybe they’re portraying him accurately?

  15. Red Bull dropping the PR ball once more.

    As the challenger to Hamilton’s crown, DTS is the perfect opportunity for their guy to be seen by a whole new generation of would-be fans.

    Instead, once again, there are just moans.


    1. The only moaning is see are from ham fans..

      1. sorry, “a” ham fan.

        There is no trace of moaning on the RBR side… so it must be your imagination, again..

    2. Dude literally just won a popularity poll between all drivers, I think he’s good on the PR front.

  16. The problem with these PR driven shows is they always push an upbeat exciting version with a little human drama and danger sprinkled in. Not that F1 doesn’t have those elements, but Drive to Survive paints that picture for every single round. I wonder how many of the converts will be around after a season or two.

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