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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
The Observer

‘Drive to Survive’ finishes the race, but does not win it

Maria Dach | The Observer
Maria Dach | The Observer

‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ is back for its fifth season and ready to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at all the drama that unfolds in Formula 1. With a large amount of unrestricted access to the Formula 1 paddock, ‘Drive to Survive’ once again gives viewers spectacular insights into some of the major events of the 2022 Formula 1 season.

For those unfamiliar with ‘Drive to Survive’, here is a quick summary: aided by exclusive interviews of the Formula 1 driver and team principles, the show provides a recap of the previous year’s season of Formula 1. But because the show cannot cover everything that happened throughout the year, it creates episodes around some of the most notable events. This time around, the producers of the show highlight events such as Ferrari’s strategy woes and Red Bull’s breach of the Formula 1 cost cap.

And truly, those behind ‘Drive to Survive’ once again demonstrate how to masterfully build a single-episode story arc from footage filmed throughout the course of a year. There are drawbacks to the episodes not being in complete chronological order, to be sure, but the single-episode arcs are amazing at getting viewers emotionally invested in the singular event that is being followed in the episode. The noteworthy incidents of the Formula 1 season can be complicated by technical explanations, but ‘Drive to Survive’ shines because it explains those incidents through the lens of the people who lived them. 

For me, however, there was a bit of a letdown in what was not shown. Multiple notable absences include moments of tension between the drivers and the Federation Internationale d’Automobile, or FIA (the governing body for Formula 1). One example is the uproar that resulted from the FIA deploying a recovery vehicle in wet conditions where the drivers could barely see. Since ‘Drive to Survive’ focused on driver safety multiple times this season, the show definitely would have benefited from the inclusion of this incident. 

Longtime fans of the show might also know that the show creates some controversy with the way that it dramatizes some of the stories it tells. And while the extra drama does create some entertaining fan-edited videos, it also creates an element of distrust. One example of this extra dramatization is when the show misuses quotes from the drivers. While I was watching the show, there was a constant niggling in the back of my brain asking whether the situation presented to me is accurate. Having to constantly think about the accuracy of the show did a lot to bring down my enjoyment of watching it.

Ultimately, ‘Drive to Survive’ does what it is meant to do, but it does not do much more than that. For a Formula 1 fan like me, there was a benefit from the recap of what happened in the sport last year before this week’s race. On the other hand, anyone who wants to learn more about Formula 1 will also have a pretty good introductory resource. If you are watching ‘Drive to Survive’ for either of those reasons then you will be satisfied. But if you are looking for a show that you will want to come back to and rewatch again, then this show is probably not the place for you.

Title: ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’

Starring: All the team principles and drivers in Formula 1 

Favorite episodes: “Pardon My French” purely for Sergio Perez’s reaction to Sebastian Vettel’s retirement

If you like: Formula 1 and motorsports

Where to watch: Netflix

Shamrocks: 3 out of 5