Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 4 leaves a lot on the track

By far one of the most interesting episodes of the latest season of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive is episode four – A Mountain to Climb.

This episode is interesting because it’s focus is on the Haas F1 team and its title partner – Uralkali. Given the current invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, and Haas’ decision to part ways with the Russian sponsor and its driver Nikita Mazepin, one has to watch the episode to see how drastically opinion of the Mazepin family’s involvement in the team has changed since the show was filmed and edited.

It does feel kind of weird hearing Guenther Steiner wave off comments about the team colours representing Russia only for Haas to have changed its livery recently to separate itself from Russian ties. Ignoring current events then, this episode really felt like Haas trying to appear independent from its title sponsor, only for those attempts to be in vain given current affairs.

While some episodes of the latest season of Netflix’s motorsport drama are interesting such as the one above, we get the distinct feeling that Netflix was looking for drama when it really didn’t need to.

One of the most egregious examples of this was the episode Dances with Wolff which takes a look at the “rivalry” between Valterri Bottas and George Russell as the second driver’s seat at AMG Mercedes came up for discussion. While that discussion was indeed a focus of last season, the way it’s portrayed just feels off, almost as if Russell had guns out for Bottas from the offing which never felt like the case.

Not only does Netflix seemingly create drama, it also ignores big moments that took place throughout the season.

Episode seven of the show focuses on the Hungarian Grand Prix with attention paid to Esteban Ocon’s first F1 victory.

Our sticking point here is that despite Fernando Alonso being mentioned, his brilliant holding of Lewis Hamilton for 10 laps that helped Ocon secure that win doesn’t even garner a mention. The one saviour of this episode is seeing the growth of Yuki Tsunoda over the course of the racing season but even this could have used more attention.

While Ocon’s win was big news, we would have loved to see how he and Alonso as team mates off of the track. While Alonso’s reputation precedes him in this regard, Ocon has been quoted as saying the Spaniard is an excellent team mate and the pair work to push the team forward together.

Our problem with Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 4 is that much of what is covered in the show are matters that have been discussed at length within the Formula 1 community over the course of the 2021 season. This should’ve given Netflix the signal that the community wanted insight into these matters but instead we get something that plays on emotions and prejudice rather than giving straight answers.

There is little to no mention of how the recent and forthcoming rule changes have affected teams. There is not even mention of Kimi Räikkönen’s retirement throughout the entire season. There is so much that Netflix could have focused on but it chose unnecessary drama instead.

This has been a sticking point with Drive to Survive for a while now and while season three was less focused on creating drama, Netflix seemingly hasn’t learned.

As Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said last week, much of what is seen on screen isn’t how things actually play out.

“They create a spin to the narrative. They put scenes together that didn’t happen. I guess you’d say as an insider: ‘Well, that’s different than how it was’,” Wolff said according to BBC Sport. This was also a reason Max Verstappen doesn’t feature in interviews in the series at all.

To be clear, there is absolutely drama that unfolds on and off track but this time around it seems as if Netflix was more intent on telling a story it thinks viewers want to see instead of the story that was there. We also feel as if some drivers and teams play things up for the cameras given how entrenched the production team has become in F1 events.

There are a few episodes that will put a smile on an F1 fan’s face but overall season four of Drive to Survive didn’t leave us excited for the 2022 Formula 1 season as past seasons did.

You won’t be losing anything by watching season four of Drive to Survive but it fails to leave an impact the way previous seasons have.

Maybe let’s focus on the racing for next season Netflix, the drama should come second.


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