After the high drama of the 2021 Formula season which ended in last-lap controversy in Abu Dhabi, the 2022 championship was always going to be an anti-climax.

As it was it became something of a procession for reigning champion Max Verstappen, who won his second F1 title with four races to go and won a record 15 of the season’s 22 races.

The ease with which the Dutchman retained his title may have presented difficulties for the producers of access-all-areas Formula 1 documentary Drive to Survive, now into its fifth season on Netflix.

But as ever, the filmmakers have found plenty going on behind the scenes to present 10 more gripping episodes.

From the continued fallout from Abu Dhabi and the fractious and friendly relationships between some team principals, to strategic success and failure and the drivers’ battles to secure seats for 2023, Drive to Survive 5 offers an unmissable insight into the motorsport circus that is Formula 1.

1. Here are three of the reasons you should definitely watch Drive to Survive 5…

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1. Ferrari’s frustrations

Charles Leclerc Netflix

Until a late salary cap controversy threatens to overshadow their march to the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, Red Bull’s season is largely uneventful.

For the most part – apart from an awkward scene in which Caitlyn Jenner tells him that “Ferrari doing well is just great for the series. I mean they are Formula 1" – Red Bull principal Christian Horner is a self-satisfied onlooker seemingly revelling in the difficulties faced by rival team bosses, none more than Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, who is in the unfamiliar position of playing catchup with the teams at the front of the grid.

But it’s the trials of Red Bull’s main rival, Ferrari, that grab the spotlight.

After an opening-race 1-2 for Charles Leclerc (above) and Carlos Sainz, the Scuderia are flying high, but subsequent car failures and strategic calamities hand the initiative to Horner and champion Verstappen, and Prancing Horse principal Mattia Binotto has to answer to frustrated drivers, passionate tifosi and unimpressed team owners as a result. It doesn’t end well…

2. Old guard gives way to the new generation

Lewis Hamilton Netflix

If 2022 marked a changing of the guard in F1 with seven-times champion Hamilton, above, losing to first-timer Verstappen, then 2023 merely continues that process.

For the first time in his 16-year career, Hamilton fails to win a single race, and it’s left to his 24-year-old teammate Russell to rescue Mercedes’ barren season with victory in the penultimate race.

Four-time champion Sebastien Vettel bows out and pit-lane joker Daniel Ricciardo finds himself without a team.

But it’s not all bad news for the old hands – Fernando Alonso, father of the grid and self-styled “bad guy”, sheepishly attends a 41st birthday bash thrown by his Alpine team while already deep in contractual negotiations with Aston Martin.

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Another controversial driver, Kevin Magnussen, answers Haas’s call a year after leaving the team when Russian Nikita Mazepin finds himself out of contract as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Dane soon puts the bad feeling between him and Haas principal Guenther Steiner – one of the unexpected stars of the series – to bed to outperform teammate Mick Schumacher, whose own struggles to live up to his legendary father’s legacy make for a poignant fourth episode.

Max Verstappen has comfortably eclipsed the achievements of F1 driving dad Jos, and makes a welcome return to the DtS interview chair after boycotting the documentary in 2021.

It’s the race to secure the next Verstappen that provides the series’ most jaw-dropping off-circuit scenes, as Alpine’s announcement that Oscar Piastri will be driving for them in 2023 is dismissed on Twitter by the promising young Australian, who promptly joins McLaren, leaving Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer threatening a $5m lawsuit.

This one alone has us looking forward to Drive to Survive season 6…

3. It really does access all areas

Verstappen and Leclerc Netflix

Of course, F1 is ultimately all about racing cars, and Drive to Survive’s coverage of the 2022 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.

The candid camerawork and exquisite editing don’t come much better than in coverage of Zhou Guanyu’s horrific first-lap crash at Silverstone. The Chinese driver’s Alfa Romeo rolled over on contact with George Russell’s Mercedes and skidded upside-down across the track before flipping over a tyre wall and trapping the rookie in his cockpit.

From the view from Zhou’s on-board camera and the reaction of shocked mechanics and concerned drivers, to the sight of Russell climbing over the tyres to check on his rival’s condition before it’s confirmed that the driver is OK, these few minutes present Drive to Survive at its very best: even though viewers will likely know the positive outcome, the tension is palpable and Zhou’s survival no less miraculous eight months on. 

Watch Drive to Survive season 5 on Netflix now

Drive to Survive seasons 1-4 are available to watch on Netflix

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