Last season was another disappointment for the McLaren-Honda team, but it will give us something else that’s very cool. McLaren let a documentary crew film the inner workings of their 2017 season for a new four-episode series on Amazon: Grand Prix Driver.
As someone who blames the Audi Le Mans doc Truth in 24 for getting her interested in motorsports, seeing the McLaren Formula One team get a similar documentary treatment is pretty exciting. At least one name behind it has prior experience making F1 fascinating to the masses, too: executive producer Manish Pandey, whose previous credits include Senna.
In a release announcing the new series, Amazon promises “unprecedented access” to McLaren’s major players and how they work. Believe it or not, they started off last year with such optimism! Per Amazon:
After two tough years at the back of the grid, McLaren is hopeful that this is the year they will be back on the podium, and they have promoted rookie driver Stoffel Vandoorne alongside two-time world champion Fernando Alonso to work towards this goal.
Of course, we know how this ends: poorly. 2017 brought an end to McLaren’s doomed partnership with Honda, whose slow and unreliable engines forced eight-time F1 constructors’ champions McLaren to the back of the field. McLaren only bested struggling smaller team Sauber in the constructors’ standings last year, and all but had to switch to Renault power for 2018 in order to keep star driver Fernando Alonso.
But it’s because we know how it ends that makes this so interesting. This is our Titanic, baby! I’ve never wanted to see a team’s recent F1 season get publicly dissected as much as this one. Amazon’s release says that we’ll get a closer look at some pretty cool stuff, too:
GRAND PRIX Driver will take viewers through Vandoorne’s first few months with McLaren-Honda, including his grueling training regime, the highly anticipated launch of the new 2017 car and testing at Barcelona. Prime members will get to see challenges within the team, including rare insight into Alonso and his fierce drive to claim a third championship, new McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown’s quest for sponsorship in this expensive sport and the car build process, including the installation of the new Honda engine, which no team has previously allowed.
“Challenges” is perhaps the nicest, kindest way of summing up McLaren’s 2017 season that I’ve ever heard. I wonder if this is the TV PR version of “bless your heart?”
Diving into McLaren’s sponsorship search should be weirdly fascinating, too, as that’s how F1 teams fund all the crazy engineering feats they turn into reality. McLaren announced just yesterday that they weren’t going to have a title sponsor yet again, like they did back in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes days. McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown told Racer that they’re going without one to build McLaren’s own brand up. However, given the team’s major recent push for such a sponsorship, that sounds suspiciously like no one was willing to write a big enough check.
Amazon Prime members can catch this hopefully epic tale of F1's favorite recent failsons on February 9, here on Amazon Prime Video. All four episodes will go live at once for your binge-watching convenience.