Film & TV

“A Compelling, Drama-Filled Watch” – TV Review: Formula 1: Drive To Survive Season 3

Amrit Virdi

Thrills, drama, and devastation are three words to sum up Season 3 of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Aptly released in the build-up to the 2021 Formula 1 championship, which kicked off in Bahrain on the 28th March, the season captured the disruption brought to the sport due to COVID, as well as the captivating and all-revealing drama which occurs in the paddock, highlighting that “cash is king” in the sport.

Documenting the 2020 racing season, the series started with a feeling of impending doom. Opening with Renault’s (now McLaren’s) Daniel Ricciardo conversing about COVID, the first two episodes didn’t shy away from emphasising the enormous impact that the pandemic had on the sport, leading to the cancellation of the Australian Grand-Prix moments before it was about to begin. This, paired with the intense wheel to wheel racing and driver rivalries, makes for a compelling, drama-filled watch.

If you take away one thing from this season in particular, it is the undeniable pressure behind the scenes for teams and drivers to excel and achieve podium positions

Not shying away from controversies, it didn’t take long for the unexplainably fast ‘Pink Mercedes’ Racing Point car to be mentioned, as well as the “secret settlement” between Ferrari and the FIA after concerns of regulation breaches. If you take away one thing from this season in particular, it is the undeniable pressure behind the scenes for teams and drivers to excel and achieve podium positions.

The ten episodes follow on from incidents documented in seasons 1 and 2, including the Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon saga. After a disappointing performance in the second Red Bull Seat in the first half of 2019, being unable to match the performance of former teammate Max Verstappen, Gasly was removed from the team and replaced with new talent Alex Albon midway through 2019. Season 3 followed Gasly’s comeback to achieve a race win with Alpha Tauri, as well as Albon’s own failure to keep his seat in Red Bull, being left without a seat in 2021.

Such rivalries also occur at the top however, as the Mercedes vs Red-Bull, more specifically the Toto Wolff vs Christian Horner competition, isn’t shied away from, with Red Bull adamant to become world championship winners once again. Inner rivalries such the relationship between Mercedes teammates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton are also reported, evidencing that the competition never stops even when you’re the best at what you do.

Yet the season does feel less candid than its predecessors. The drivers, principals and engineers seem extremely more aware of Netflix’s presence, stopping certain conversations when they are aware that they are being filmed. But one thing that didn’t go amiss was the passion of the drivers and how they put their lives at risk to do what they love, which was a highlight of the season for me.

Former Haas driver Romain Grosjean is the prime example of this. After losing his seat for 2021, Grosjean suffered a horrific crash during the Bahrain Grand Prix which is documented in the series, where his car broke into two and exploded into a fireball, yet he somehow managed to literally walk out alive, highlighting the determination of these drivers.

Hamilton managed to prove everybody wrong and become one of the best racing drivers in history, so it was captivating to see his journey to success

The final episode also gets a notable mention, as it delves into the life of Lewis Hamilton. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Hamilton reflected upon his tough start in racing and karting and the racism which he had to endure. Despite the odds against him, Hamilton managed to prove everybody wrong and become one of the best racing drivers in history, so it was captivating to see his journey to success.

Whilst full of gripping moments from the 2020 championship, it has to be said that some key moments were noticeably missing. Instead of showing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s Monza crash in almost every episode, it perhaps would have been nice to see Williams’ George Russell’s impeccable performance when stepping in for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain, despite being unable to perform to the best of his abilities.

Although the change in ownership of Williams and the supposed ‘Netflix Curse’ which Mercedes seem to believe in could explain the lack of coverage of this event, a box failure from the top dogs would have been a realistic moment to show; even world championship winning teams can make mistakes. And with George Russell tipped to be a future world champion, more coverage of the rising star would have been fitting.

The politics and backdoor dealings going on behind the scenes in the sport make for an incredible insight into the money-dominated nature of motor racing

Nevertheless, I highly recommend Formula 1: Drive to Survive, even if you aren’t an F1 fan. The politics and backdoor dealings going on behind the scenes in the sport make for an incredible insight into the money-dominated nature of motor racing. With Season 4 on the way, at the same time as many drivers are out of contract at the end of 2021, I’m sure that it will make for another captivating watch as viewers get an insight once again into the ever-changing world of racing.

4 stars

Amrit Virdi


Featured image courtesy of Artes Max via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @f1 via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.

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