Formula 1: Drive to Survive – 3 reasons to watch the gripping Netflix retelling of the controversial 2021 Formula 1 season

The 2021 F1 season was arguably the closest ever and undoubtedly the most controversial. Watch it all over again in Netflix’s revealing documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

By Rhys Lewis Published: 11 March 2022 - 11.00am
Nerflix

Access-all-areas Formula 1 documentary Drive to Survive is into its fourth season on Netflix, but entertaining though they were, none of the first three series were anticipated quite as much as the retelling of the 2021 F1 season, which drops on the service on 11 March.

Drive to Survive combines interviews with drivers and team principals and candid racetrack video with top-quality race coverage to tell the tale of the 2022 season, from testing right through to the controversial denouement in Abu Dhabi and a final lap which, though thrilling, continues to bring the credibility of the sport into question.

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Here are three reasons why you should watch Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 4…

1. You know what’s going to happen, but the journey is still fascinating

Hamilton and Verstappen's cars collide Netflix

There are no spoiler warnings here. After the most hotly-contested title race for years culminated in Formula 1’s most controversial finale, this whole 10-episode season of Drive to Survive is racing headlong towards that last-lap drama in Abu Dhabi.

And don’t the producers know it – the teasers and foreshadowing are there from the start, from the talking-head journalists fearing “business as usual” to team principals promising to make life hard for all-conquering Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, every comment raises a wry, knowing smile.

Even ex-Spice Girl Geri Horner – wife of Red Bull boss Christian, sounds prophetic when she declares "Brand new season - I think this is gonna be the one!" in episode 1.

Unfortunately, you can’t help but wince when incoming F1 CEO Stefano Domenicalli says: “The title fight is very important to the credibility of Formula 1”, knowing now how much that credibility is still in the balance because of how the title fight ended.

Ultimately, the way the story of the season is told and the insight that comes from the co-operation of so many of the main players in that story makes Drive to Survive a compelling watch.

2. Everyone gets equal billing on this grid

Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Netflix

Wolff, Horner and their top drivers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen naturally sit at the heart of the series’ narrative, but Drive to Survive season 4 isn’t all about Mercedes vs Red Bull.

Over the course of the series we meet Haas rookies Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, root for Aussie veteran Daniel Ricciardo as he is out-performed by McLaren team mate Lando Norris (above left) and meet Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda as they make the daunting step up to the pinnacle of motor sport.

We catch up with Team Williams, once the most successful team on the grid but struggling in recent years and entering 2021 under new management, and with Carlos Sainz (above right), as he completes every driver's dream move to the sport's most famous team, Ferrari. 

In short, Drive to Survive takes viewers from pole position right to the back of the grid, meeting the drivers, principals as well as team members who keep the F1 circus rolling on, and telling their stories through access-all-areas coverage.

3. The race action is spectacular

Formula 1 race Netflix

Of course, F1 is ultimately all about racing cars, and Drive to Survive’s coverage of the 2021 season’s races is nothing short of stunning. The producers have blended high-definition race coverage with unseen video from the pit wall and team garages and pin-sharp on-board pictures to create an immersive F1 viewing experience.

Race radio is combined with contemporaneous reactions of crew and team leaders – much of it in expletives – to ramp up the tension, while celebrations, commiserations and occasional post-race fury is captured candidly.

Even tiny details don’t go amiss. Look carefully at George Russell’s dashboard and you’ll spot “I've got to stop... because I've got a lump in my throat" decaled across it, the words of commentator Murray Walker when Damon Hill won the 1996 World Championship in his own Williams car.

There’s so much going on you’ll spot something new on every viewing.

Watch Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 4 on Netflix from 11 March.

Seasons 1-3 are available to watch on Netflix.