“A Huge Step Down From The Previous Three Seasons”- TV Review: Formula 1: Drive To Survive

Gemma Cockrell

Back in March, the long-awaited Season Four of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive To Survive was released on Netflix. Did it live up to the hype created by the previous seasons of the show? Here is Gemma Cockrell’s verdict.

This time last year, I gave Season Three of Drive To Survive a very positive review, overall. So, am I here to do the same thing once again? Unfortunately, no, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the new season of the show by any means. However, mirroring most of the opinions that I have seen floating around Twitter, I did agree that it was a huge step down from the previous three seasons.

Taking team radio snippets out of context has been a long-standing issue with Drive To Survive, ever since the series debuted back in 2019. And, to no one’s surprise, Season Four is no different. Even Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo themselves, when reacting to the series in a YouTube video, exclaimed “That’s not right… That’s not from that!”,  in relation to a team radio message that had been misplaced.

However, the issues with Season Four don’t stop there. Repeating certain races or incidents in multiple episodes was also an issue in the previous season, and, regrettably, it rears its ugly head once again in Season Four. A stand out example that sticks with me is the repetition of Charles Leclerc’s crash in Monaco qualifying in consecutive episodes. Netflix; we’ve seen it before, we don’t need to see it again!

All of the issues that I have mentioned so far were also present in seasons one, two and three of the show, and I still enjoyed those seasons – so, what was it about Season Four that made it such a downgrade? Well, Drive To Survive promises a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes nature of the sport, and, whilst this was present at times, overall Season Four did just feel like a glorified review of the 2021 Formula 1 season.

Why do I need to watch it all again?

As an avid fan of the sport, who hadn’t missed a single race throughout the year, this felt pretty pointless to watch. I’d already seen all of the races unfold live on Sky Sports, so why do I need to watch it all again? Sure, it’s fun to relive the memories, but for me, the whole point of Drive To Survive was to see behind-the-scenes moments, and learn new things about the sport that hadn’t already been aired on TV.

Because of this, I felt like Season Four of Drive To Survive didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know. It felt more like it was just recapping the events of the season, and the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, the latter of whom refused to even appear in the show because he doesn’t support the fake, dramatised nature of it – and it’s hard not to see where he’s coming from.

I know this review has been relatively negative so far, but I will use the remainder of it to highlight some of the elements of the season that I do believe were successful. Suzie Wolff’s appearances across the episodes were consistently brilliant, and with Claire Williams no longer there to represent women in motorsport, it was great to see a figure like Suzie being given the opportunity to have such an important role in the show.

Revealed some of the very interesting things Haas had to do to keep their sponsors happy

There were also a few episodes that did manage to capture some of the behind-the-scenes antics of the sport, and these were the highlights of the season for me. Episode Four, ‘A Mountain To Climb’, which focused on Haas, was my favourite episode. Not only did it delve into the drama surrounding Nikita Mazepin, but it also revealed some of the very interesting things Haas had to do to keep their sponsors happy (if you’ve seen the “My boat” meme of team principal Guenther Steiner, you’ll know what I mean).

So, this leads to the question that many people are asking across the internet, ‘Is this the end of Drive To Survive? My answer is no, not only because it has already been confirmed that filming has already started for Season Five, which will be released in 2023, but also because I do believe the show still has potential, and still has a lot to offer. Having said this, changes definitely need to be made to the format, if Netflix want the show to continue to be as successful as it has been in the past, and continue to engage new and old fans alike.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @drivetosurvivenetflix via No changes were made to this image.

In-article video courtesy of @McLaren via No changes were made to this video.

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