If you’re looking to learn more about Formula 1 behind the scenes, you’ll love Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive To Survive. The first two seasons were famous for breaking down the drama past the podium in a way that’s accessible to newcomers and still thrilling for die-hard fans. But does season three, all about the 2020 season, live up to its own reputation?


What They Got Right

There were some things about Season 3 that improved both the show and it’s role in the sport as a whole. Our Formula 1: Drive To Survive review would be incomplete if we didn’t mention them.

Having sports journalists on screen as expert “talking heads” is common. But for the first time, one of those journalists was a woman: Jennie Gow. She does a brilliant job breaking down some of the finer points of the sport and the dramatic storylines behind it.

And speaking of storylines, it’s impossible to watch and review Formula 1: Drive To Survive without appreciating the drama. Netflix’s behind-the-scenes access to Formula 1 included absolute emotional gems. For instance, watching Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul’s dramatic reaction to Daniel Ricciardo leaving. Or seeing Sebastian Vettel having a thing or two to say about Ferrari. And Pierre Gasly working past heartbreak to take his first Grand Prix win.

romain grosjean getting out of his car that is on fire at bahrain gp 2020

What They Got Wrong

We’re not frustrated by the amount of exposition in each episode, even though it’s a lot, because it would be unfair to review Formula 1: Drive To Survive without appreciating that it’s geared towards newcomers to the sport.

But with all of that exposition, there are several major stories that they missed from this year that seem like glaring omissions. The Williams family leaving racing, for instance, is a huge deal as they’ve been in the sport for decades. It seems like a story rife with drama, but Netflix ignores it completely.

There is also very little acknowledgement of the BLM movement or the “We Race As One” campaign for diversity. Lewis Hamilton is given five insightful and frank minutes of interview time at the end, but there’s no reaction from anyone else in Formula 1.

Instead, the producers try to create a rivalry within McLaren between Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz with radio clips taken out of context. While it’s not a huge surprise that a series created to focus on human drama would focus on the same emotions that the average reality show does, with all of their Formula 1 behind the scenes access, it’s disappointing that they chose to make this story up instead of focusing on more real ones.

Overall Thoughts

What do you want this show to be? It’s hard to end our Formula 1: Drive To Survive review without answering that one basic question. Ultimately, it’s entertainment, bordering on being a reality show. If you want in depth analysis of the F1 world, you’ll be frustrated by this. But if you’re happy to just enjoy a reality TV show based on your favorite sport, you’ll probably still have fun.

May 07, 2021 — Jared Nichols

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