Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Steiner supports Verstappen’s decision not to take part in Drive to Survive

2021 United States Grand Prix

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has supported Max Verstappen after the Red Bull driver announced he will not participate in the Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Verstappen revealed on Thursday he is no longer giving interviews for the series, which has been widely credited with bringing new viewers to Formula 1. He complained the programme makers had “faked a few rivalries which, they don’t really exist”.

Steiner has figured prominently in the series which has at times cast an uncomfortable light on his team’s struggles. Nonetheless he said Verstappen is within his right not to participate if he has concerns over the presentation in Drive to Survive.

“If Max doesn’t want to take part [in] it, it is his decision and I would not critique that,” said Steiner. “It’s free to participate or not and he decided not to.

“So we shouldn’t get opinionated about it. If he feels he wasn’t portrayed right, it’s his full right not to take part [in] it.”

“It’s his full right not to take part” – Steiner
Verstappen’s decision means the series will not enjoy the co-operation of the driver who was recently named the most popular in the sport.

“Obviously the fans are missing out of seeing Max because I think he’s a first of all a good driver and he’s a character, he’s a personality,” said Steiner. “But if he doesn’t want to take part, that’s part of his life.”

Although Steiner has figured prominently in the series, he has consistently said he hasn’t watched the episodes he appears in. “I don’t know how I’m portrayed in it so I don’t have an opinion on that,” he said.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown downplayed Verstappen’s concerns over misrepresentations in the programme, describing it as being “factual with a little bit of theatre added”, and praising its success in widening F1’s audience.

“Netflix has been outstanding for Formula 1,” he said. “It’s driven a younger fan base, it’s driven a much larger fan base. It’s really had an impact in America.

“From what I can see – I can only judge the sport from what I know, so I can’t really speak to what happens in other teams – I think it’s factual with a little bit of theatre added, and that’s what television is.

“It’s doing what we as a sport would like it to do, which is turn on a bunch of new fans and on that basis I think it’s been hugely successful.”

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19 comments on “Steiner supports Verstappen’s decision not to take part in Drive to Survive”

  1. I’d rather watch a useless daylight FP1 in Bahrain than a piece of Reality TV.

    1. @proesterchen it’s not really reality TV in the usual sense though. Reality TV is dramatisation of “normal” people (who aren’t normally in front of the camera) in circumstance the show is set up for—and importantly those people are only there and creating drama for the purpose of reality TV.

      DTS is following athletes at the highest level, who are already highly featured in the media; and will be doing it whether DTS crews are there or not, and I think this is the primary distinction between reality TV or not: whether the “stars” of the show are there for the purpose of the show or not. At worst, it’s more of a docu-drama; but I think Brown’s assessment seems pretty reasonable.

      I’m not saying you should watch it—I really don’t care—but I don’t think it’s fair to call it “reality TV”.

      1. I would argue that while there are many Reality TV formats that revolve around characters portrayed to be “normal” people that is far from a necessity to qualify. There have also been plenty of Reality TV formats that involve people going about their “normal jobs.” Even athletes at their highest level have been the subjects of Reality TV, see Hard Knocks for example.

        So however granular one gets in describing this streaming series, it still fits well under the umbrella of Reality TV.

  2. I think it’s factual with a little bit of theatre added

    So a bit like driving on an actual race track with added finger gestures for drama.
    What could possibly be wrong with that Max?

    1. That’s the factual part. The non-factual part would be to pretend that finger belonged to another driver or that it happened during the race instead of FP2. That’s the kind of fabrication Max dislikes and we all know it happens in DtS.

      1. FactsMatter I was going to say something similar. Obviously Max thought LH did something unwarranted, and after all, it was just practice so Max probably has a point, and yeah if we were to ask Max about the incident in relation to what DTS would do with it he would probably say something similar to what you have said. Or they’d insert something like LH saying he respects Max, only to then have Max responding with his middle finger.

        1. As opposed to Sky editing the bit out of Max chopping across Ham on the prep lap and pretending it was Ham doing the chopping causing deResta to reach for his smelling salts?
          Or F1 editing the team radio, or playing a soundbite out of sync, to paint a different reality? Or every other F1 journalist who takes what’s said in the televised press conference and edits it down to create something that just has a passing relationship with the truth, but makes a good headline?
          Must be a need for it given the number of of people on social media who would rather believe the fiction; even when the truth is staring them in the face.
          Don’t know what Max is so bothered about anyway. By the time they have edited out his expletives all they would be left with is ‘mate’.

      2. I’m just saying that Max adds to the drama and theatre himself, every race, even every practice or qualification. There are ‘facts’ like he said but there are also plenty of incidents where drivers try to put their own spin on incidents (‘he blocked me!’ ‘he pushed me off!’) and use ‘dramatic effects’ and theatrics to convince whoever is listening. Precisely what Max did in practice. Does DTS do actual fabrication? It spins incidents in ways that encourage viewers to fill the gaps, which isn’t the same thing.

        1. @david-br And now you’re adding to the drama by trying to claim it is every time Max is on track;) Let’s note too that with all the drivers there is a difference between heat of the moment comments made that likely all of us would make in the same circumstances, and the comments they make afterwards that are usually much more diplomatic. This isn’t about reactions that drivers make in the heat of the moment, for they are just that…heat of the moment and reactionary…this is about how those can then get edited to manipulate the storyline. So it’s not like you are saying it in that Max is intentionally adding to the drama. He’s just being himself in the heat of the moment. As are all the drivers. See LH’s comments in the car during races too.

          Eg. We saw Max give LH the finger. We have also seen them fist pump each other after a race and that is even after Silverstone and Monza have happened, but is behind them, and we could well see them fist pump after this race, even after ‘fingergate’ lol. And VB has said it isn’t personal between them. These drivers are highly trained to not get too high on the highs nor too low on the lows and much of this stuff is water off a ducks back for them, but one wouldn’t always think so from Netflix. But no, the drivers aren’t adding to the drama, they ARE the drama via their actions and words…the storyline…and that should be enough, but it isn’t for Netflix.

          1. @robbie I’m not suggesting Max is exceptional! All drivers do it. Alonso’s off-track excursion at Socchi was total theatre. I’m more on Zac Brown’s side though, I can take or leave DTS, but I see the value for Formula 1 more broadly.

          2. @david-br No for sure I didn’t think you were just isolating Max, and I do agree with you and Brown’s opinion on DTS. I don’t blame them for adding a little drama and I respect Max’s take on it too, and I just hope that new fans drawn into F1 get to appreciate the real drama vs the added drama once they delve into it further. You get watching long enough and you realize, especially when a tragedy happens, that they are all much closer to being a family than enemies and the middle fingers and the radio snipes are very small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, as you know.

          3. @robbie I agree, I appreciated Bottas’s comments too.

    2. I love theatre. Hopefully they add some great drama in Silverstone. How Lewis was losing out on the championship battle and tried to kill Verstappen. Good reality tv story there.

  3. This site really is milking the “story” or, like dts creating one :)

    1. Quite appropriate considering the topic though, in the spirit of that Neftlix show.

  4. If Verstappen feels that Drive to Survive gives a false impression of the sport or turns drivers into either heroes or villains for the sake of ratings, well good on him, I think he’s right. These ‘sugar hits’ like DtS or marching bands, reverse grids or any number of silly gimmicks and ‘great ideas’ can only ever end up a downer in the end.

  5. [quote] Verstappen, unable to take the racing line through the corner, backed out of his lap and raised his middle finger at Hamilton as they approached turn two.

    “Stupid idiot,” he remarked on his radio. “Ignore it, don’t worry about it,” replied his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.[/quote]

    Gee, I wonder why he doesn’t want people getting a better look at what kind of person he really is?

    1. It’s a RACING INCIDENT. 100%. Okay?!
      Wait, this isn’t Sunday.

  6. Of course he doesn’t like DtS… First season was focusing a lot on Daniel & Max and how RB was favouring Max. So yeah, made a bit Daniel look like the victim and Max was nit put under favorable spotlight. No wonder he didn’t like it…. Sure it was sugar coated, but not false ain’it ? 😂

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