I finished F1 Drive to Survive Season 3 very quickly from release and just had to share my thoughts on the new season as it’s still fresh on everyone’s mind. It currently is number 1 on trending on Australian Netflix which I am actually surprised at. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it already.
Now I have been an avid Formula 1 and motorsports fan for a few years now. You wouldn’t think it because I rarely mention it (only on Twitter where I can share whatever I want). I don’t even have a passion for cars and driving. I only knew a few big names of the sport but by 2016, me and my father started watching as many races during the season live. Since we live in Australia, this often meant having to schedule our Sunday evenings and Monday mornings because races would be at whacky times of the day. I would get excited telling my father about recaps and my thoughts of the races. It was like a weekly ritual and it made our bond so much closer and I thank F1 for that.
I’ve watched Season 1 and 2 and really enjoyed it. I feel like Drive to Survive has exposed the sport to millions through mainstream media. I am thankful for the show for showing behind the scenes and exclusive and intimate footage of the F1 drivers and principals. However, I felt this season was lacking for me personally and I wanted to share why.
I love seeing the behind of the scenes and seeing how real all the drivers and principals were which I find really refreshing. I find Christian Horner quite scary but the man tells it as it is and does not sugar-coat anything. Horner constantly stirring the pot is so shady but I’m here for it.
I also enjoyed hearing the principals letting us understand the psychology of the drivers. Lawrence Stroll is one man you do not want to mess with. I absolutely love Toto Wolff and Guenther Steiner as always and I am sure they are fan favourites of the series. Steiner’s ‘he does not fok smash my door‘ is like my favourite quote from Season 2 only behind Kimi Raikkonen ‘it’s more like a hobby for me. so obviously, I don’t need to do it if I don’t want‘ when talking about how competitive F1 is and this quote is so Kimi. Never change man. It’s even funnier knowing that is Kimi’s only line in the entire Season 2 series.
There weren’t many memorable scenes in Drive to Survive Season 3. I really enjoyed episode 3 (Nobody’s Fool) because it was quite personal to Bottas. We got an insight into how hate can get to someone and the feeling of always being a ‘wingman’ to Hamilton and never feeling like a champion on his own accord. Also check out the sauna scene.
Personally, I loved the scene in episode 4 (We Need to Talk About Ferrari) where Vettel wears his mask upside down and gets told off by the Ferrari PR lady. I found it a bit symbolic to how Vettel was not a great fit with the seriousness of Ferrari. It was Vettel shading Ferrari for like 40 minutes which I live (Vettel telling off LeClerc he can’t start a clothing line & we can not be too funny considering the performance). I wish we got to see more of Vettel’s psyche. We all know that Vettel and Ferrari have not been in form for a while now.
Episode 9 (Man on Fire) was one my favourites because it was really powerful and dramatic without distorting the narrative. We got a really nice storyline from both Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez. In Bahrain, Grosjean had a car crash that caused a huge fire which halted the race. This shocked and worried all F1 fans live. In the episode, Grosjean says in an interview that at one point he had accepted death by fire. It was incredibly heavy to hear. Grosjean leaves an amazing legacy in F1 forever. Perez has the race of his life winning from last place . But it may not enough to secure a seat in 2021 but Horner comes in congratulating him into Red Bull.
I also really respect Lewis Hamilton providing commentary to end the series regarding racism, growing up black and thoughts on being the only black driver on the grid. I felt racism was a pertinent issue in 2020 and it was nice that it was acknowledged.
However, for the most part I found Drive to Survive Season 3 a little underwhelming and I wanted to share my thoughts of the series.
Missing key races and important moments of the season
I do find it quite unsettling that the documentary is not in chronological order of the F1 season. Apart from the first episode that usually focuses on Australia (first grand prix of the year) and the last episode that focuses on final races, the rest of the episodes can be disjointed from each other as they fit a narrative that production wants to push.
I liked how episode 1 did mention coronavirus and the sudden impact it can have to the sport. I wish it was an ongoing theme thorough the series since the pandemic has been an ongoing concern. Episode 1 and 2 seem really disjointed from each other.
Why did we need like 3 episodes focusing solely on Monza? Besides from Pierre Gasly’s amazing win at Monza (without a doubt one of the highlights of the F1 season), it wasn’t that remarkable of a race. Not enough for it to be the focal point for half the series. I know that production does have limits filming but I thought this was just too much.
I felt there were some important moments of the season and there were barely a mention in the series.
Where was the Turkish Grand Prix? You know the one where Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s 7 World Driver’s Championships? The one where Sebastian Vettel won his first and only podium on the season when Ferrari had a dismal dogshit year?
Or Bahrain where George Russell replaced Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes because he tested for coronavirus. Having one of the most memorable and heart-breaking races of his career? In addition, Claire Williams and the Williams family also stepped down from the Williams team mid 2020 to keep the team alive. It was the end of a glorious era of over 40 years and it was barely even recognised on the show.
False or embellished story lines for entertainment
One episode focused on McLaren duo, Lando Norris and Carlo Sainz pitting against each other. This is after the announcement that Sainz would be departing for Ferrari at the end of 2020. The storyline just wasn’t really true. As F1 fans, we see that Norris and Sainz have a very good friendship but production was making them seem like bitter enemies. Honestly that episode was probably my least favourite and it seems I’m not alone on this. The fabrication of this rivalry was too much.
There were edited radio team calls from different races that skewed the narrative of how the races actually went. Obviously they were edited during production to enhance storylines. For example, a radio call from Brazil in 2019 was used when Vettel and Leclerc crashed in the Styrian Grand Prix. Dedicated F1 fans picked up on this as this was simply false.
Imbalance of team representation
As I mentioned earlier after sharing the most priceless and hilarious moment of S2, I find Kimi Raikkonen such a underrated talent and comedian on the grid and he barely says anything. In fact, I barely remember either Williams drivers, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi saying anything in all 10 episodes. As I mentioned earlier, everyone had their eyes on Russell in Mercedes in Bahrain. Drive to Survive gave us crickets. I thought it was one of the momentous races of the season and we heard nothing from Russell.
McLaren is focused too heavily in this series when they didn’t do anything too groundbreaking this season apart from being third in the construction’s cup. I would have loved to see more Max Verstappen. Whilst he didn’t have a remarkable season, he is arguably one of the best drivers on the grid. I barely remember him getting any screentime. Honestly, I think Christian Horner got more screen time than both Red Bull drivers combined – prove me wrong.
Nico Hulkenberg may not have a permanent seat in the 2020 season but he did make 3 appearances to step in for Racing Point. I don’t think he was mentioned at all. The Hulk needs more love.
Drama for the sake of drama
We need less Will Buxton – I’m sorry. I felt a lot of the journalists on the series were making things really dramatic and ominous unnecessarily. As I mentioned earlier, I felt Drive to Survive Season 3 missed the mark by omitting really important events in the season. We don’t need all these dramatic embellishments because the F1 season is exciting. So let the F1 events tell the story.
There was too much focus and drama on both Sainz and Riccardo leaving their respective teams when it wasn’t very dramatic. I felt both ended on good terms and it was really nice to see conversations with Riccardo and Cyril Abiteboul. I felt Cyril was really likeable this season (some reason I didn’t like him in Season 2). There didn’t need to be 2 whole episodes on this. There just wasn’t really any drama.
I understand that at the end of the day, Drive to Survive is a Netflix documentary. It is to serve as entertainment. It is geared towards neutral fans and people who may be curious about the sport rather than F1 fans. Overall, I enjoyed it. It’s always a pleasure to watch it every year on Netflix. If I had not been a fan of the sport prior to the Drive to Survive series, I would have by now.
Drive to Survive Season 3 is available now on Netflix