Drive to Survive Fact or Fiction?

Emily Wright, Reporter

The 2021 Formula One season was one of the most exciting seasons in decades. So, it was natural for people to be excited for season 4 of Drive to Survive, the hit Netflix show that follows the teams as they navigate the world of Formula One. However, many fans were left disappointed by the new season which Matt Gallagher, member of WTF1, described as “the worst of the lot”.  

Many were excited for the new season due to the previous successes of Drive to Survive. In the US, 400,000 attended the 2021 US Grand Prix. Season 3 also ranked number one in the world shortly after its release. Gallagher believes previous seasons have been “ground-breaking and amazing for bringing in new F1 fans”. 

However, there was a flood of criticism for the new season. The first: the lack of Max Verstappen in the interviews, one of the key figures due to his intense battles with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. In an interview with Associated Press, Verstappen, driver for Red Bull Racing, said that Netflix had “faked a few rivalries” so pulled out of future interviews.  

Perhaps the biggest criticism of Drive to Survive is that some scenes were fabricated. McLaren driver, Lando Norris, believes that the controversial final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which allowed Max Verstappen to take the World Drivers’ Championship, were possibly fabricated “for the TV”. There is a positive impact of Drive To Survive, but it should not interfere with the integrity of F1.  

It wasn’t just in the dramatization of the show that many had an issue with. Some argue that the choice of storylines to follow was unusual, especially the entire episode focused on Haas, the back runners of the grid. There was also confusion regarding the lack of some drivers, such as Kimi Räikkönen, as it was his last season in F1 as a clear fan favourite.  

On top of this, many had issues with the editing style. There was a messy chronology, with the storylines hopping from race to race and returning to previous races. A lot of footage and team radios were misplaced, which not only made it confusing to follow but also changed the narrative of the season, something that Formula One fans found frustrating.  

The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) and F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali have started talks with Netflix to try and iron out the issues with the show. Domenicali said: “in order to ignite the interest of a new audience, a tone was used that in some ways focused on dramatizing the story” and continues: “we will also talk to Netflix, because it is necessary that the story does not move away from reality”.  

Netflix recently announced the confirmation of seasons 5 and 6 of ‘Drive to Survive’. Fans will have to wait to see if Netflix have taken aboard the criticisms or if the next seasons are going to be equally disappointing.