I’ll happily admit to being wrong about Netflix’s documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive. After learning the depths of F1's own involvement, I figured it’d be a sanitized, glorified ad for the racing series, empty of anything truly interesting or controversial. That wasn’t the case at all. While it wasn’t always perfect, it was mostly a compelling and fascinating watch for fans and non-fans alike. The good news is it’s coming back next year, and even more teams will be on screen this time.
Autosport reports that the series will return in 2020 and unlike in its inaugural season, Mercedes and Ferrari—the top two teams at the moment—will be featured on the show. Last time, both declined to participate.
But that didn’t stop the show from having interesting stories about Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles at his hometown race, the challenges facing the Haas F1 team, Claire Williams’ war to salvage her family’s legacy and much more. And I’ve heard a lot of friends say that they didn’t know anything about F1 before watching the series, but doing so converted them into racing fans.
Now we get to see what goes on behind the scenes at the massively competitive, high-budget, cutthroat Mercedes and Ferrari, and that should be a lot of fun.
Here’s Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff on why they didn’t join the first time:
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff confirmed last month that his team had agreed to participate after opting out in 2018, mainly because Ferrari didn’t also take part.
“[It was] mainly because our main competitor didn’t do it and I thought it was too much of a distraction,” he said.
“Then I watched it on my way to Australia and I didn’t like it, because I think it didn’t reflect that was happening on track.
I get where he’s coming from, given his position, but the fact that it didn’t completely focus on “what was happening on track” was what made it good. Here’s how he changed his mind:
“But everybody who spoke to me who was not a hard core race fans said they loved it! I watched it again and I realised that it showed stories that on track don’t exist, but it’s about the characters. It showed me a new angle to attract a new audience, different to how I perceive F1.”
That seems to be the case across the board, so the show was clearly a success. I think the 2019 season of F1 has been a pretty fun one so far, so I’m excited to see how it plays on Netflix.
And of course, there’s one storyline I am praying will make it to the screen, and that is the tale of Rich Energy and its shady, failed sponsorship of the Haas F1 team. I mean that shit alone is probably worth its own Fyre Festival-style documentary, honestly, but I will settle for one episode if I have to.
Come on, Netflix. Give us the Rich Energy saga and William Storey. I’m still raw about what happened to Daredevil, and even though that technically isn’t your fault, this is how you can make it up to me.