TV Series: Drive to Survive

The behind-the-scenes story of F1 returns ahead of the new season. The turbulent year of 2020 presented all kinds of challenges for the sport and it is sure to provide high drama to watch.

The series starts with the end of the 2019 season and the run down to Melbourne’s opening race in March. It is bizarre to see a world without COVID-19 and the anticipation of waiting for the hammer to fall. The context and emotions that surround the early part of the 2020 year is unnerving. It also feels strangely distant despite being only 12 months ago. Once the decisions and plans are put in place however, it is positive to watch the sport fight for its existence with determination. The series also refocuses well to side-line the health crisis as best it can, which is definitely the right decision. Personally, I look forward to F1 as part of my year and having that continue in 2020 meant a lot to me, it was humbling to see the effort the teams and organisers go through to make that happen. 2020 also gives the title of the series a lot more weight when you are reminded that F1 is entertainment and not a nationally funded sports programme.


The usual suspects are back to fight for the top spot, and as with many seasons the contest last year was fairly one sided. It was a historic year for F1 as Lewis Hamilton matched Schumacher’s legacy of 7 world championships. There was plenty of intrigue and close battles throughout the field which made for plenty of great watching on and off the track. Netflix’s usual approach to picking up the underlying stories the press headlines miss turns up some gems. The relationship at Ferrari turning sour leads to some very catty behaviour from driver and team, the characteristically candid Vettel is not one to mince his words, especially given his torrid year. The painful downward spiral of Alex Albon is another tragic affair caught on camera and over tearful team radios, the pressure and fear of failure is made palpable behind the scenes. There are plenty of uplifting stories to follow as well and these are fantastic to see from inside the team’s perspective. The soaring Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris show the joy the drivers and teams aspire to find in the sport. Daniel Ricciardo helping Renault to fight at the front of the grid brings out some great human dynamics, the team’s loss as he looks to leave is palpable and made worse by the positive relationship they share.

The episode structure follows individual stories more than a linear arc of the season. This technique allows for more tension building and a very different way to consume an event you already know the outcome of. The texture of life behind the track in the cabins and hotels shows often a lonely existence, the recent restrictions certainly not helping the situation. The sacrifices the members of the F1 travelling circus are shown no more starkly than with Romain Grosjean’s dramatic end to his Formula 1 career.

If you are a motorsport fan, this series is a must. For others who enjoy a good documentary, this series is the story of real people in a unique dance for our entertainment, under exceptional pressures and with a near suicidal need for speed that almost transcends comprehension for the mere mortal. You might not agree with it or understand it but you won’t find anything quite like it on planet earth.





Author: Joe, Bath store