How Drive to Survive is changing Formula 1

Netflix docuseries Formula 1: drive to surviveproduced by James Gay-Rees (known for documentaries such as Amy and Senna), recently released its fourth season. The series has already been renewed not only for the fifth but also for the sixth season. Each season follows the Formula 1 teams during a championship, which takes place over a period of one year.

It’s no surprise how much power streaming TV has grown in recent years. Series can dictate the Billboard 100, as with stranger things‘ use of “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush. They can also influence well-known holidays: the costume that was worn in Money theft has become one of the most popular Halloween costumes since the streaming series premiered. Street food shown in squid game had a ridiculously high boost in search traffic after the show aired, changing the lives of families who earned their main income selling this food.

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Cheer is a great example of another docuseries about a sport that has intoxicated audiences around the world – shocking everyone when it was discovered that one of the program’s participants was involved in child pornography. It wouldn’t be any different for a documentary series about the high-stakes sport of racing, but even established fans were surprised by how big Formula 1 was after the Netflix series. Drive to survive opened the door to new fans, but also to new opportunities for people working in Formula 1. Here’s how the documentary series changed the sport.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive is accessible

One of the main things that has really helped people fall in love with the show, and therefore the sport, is its accessibility. Racing rules, how engines work, contracts and what they mean for drivers and their teams, and all other important aspects of the sport are dutifully explained in a way that is far from boring for those who know the sport, but also easy to follow for new fans.

Related: Netflix’s Drive to Survive Season 3: 5 Things It Nailed (& 5 Things It Missed)

The show has a great cast of f1 journalists, and even the drivers and their teams take the time to explain these concepts in simple terms. It can be daunting to start watching a new sport because of all the spoken and unspoken rules that happen during games or, in this case, races, but the people involved in Drive to survive makes sport as accessible as possible. It also helped break down the barrier the sport had faced for some time of being “a European sport” closed to anyone who hadn’t been a fan for years. The show was so successful that viewership for the sport increased by almost 50% worldwide. Formula 1 has spread to all continents and Netflix plays a huge role in it.


More resources in Formula 1

The sport has seen a record level of resources from the show, which can only mean one thing: faster cars, which leads to better racing. Grand Prix attendance has increased, as has the search for hotels near the tracks (which is just one of the direct influences on tourism that the Grand Prix can have). In addition, the increase in viewership on television and on specialist Formula 1 channels translates into a strong increase in the resources and overall capital of the sport.

Another big part is that Netflix has to pay the teams that are featured on the show. The CEO of McLaren F1 explained that everything starts with the fans: if there are fans in the world, more countries want to organize races. This obviously leads to more sponsors wanting to support teams and individual drivers (or “drivers”), leading to higher salaries for everyone involved, not to mention more daunting races with better gear. Formula 1 is extremely expensive, and the higher the audience and general public interest, the higher the salaries of the teams.


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As said in the docuseries many times, it’s not a sport that only depends on the person who plays it. Teams with bigger budgets, like Ferrari and Mercedes, translate to a better car, and that means more wins. Both teams declined to be part of the show’s first season because they weren’t sure how it would hamper the teams’ focus during the race, but the two have since become part of the show after its huge success. . The driver can make all the difference, but if the car isn’t fast enough, it would take an unlikely miracle to win.

The ultimate competition

As Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said on the show, “Formula 1 is the ultimate competition: you have drama, competitiveness, high stakes, politics.” The stakes are high in every episode and in every possible aspect: millions can be lost if the team underperforms, contracts can be extinguished, careers can be ruined, and most important of all: every time pilot is driving, he has a chance of crashing and ultimately endangering their lives. Unfortunately, many excellent pilots have lost their lives on a circuit, because of the dangerousness of this sport.


This combined with the fact that the series has a very similar format to a format that has gained a lot of popularity since the 2000s: reality shows, really appeals to an audience. The big drama between teams and teammates (something that was called out by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and why it’s not part of the new season) is appealing to watch. “We used to joke at first that it was game of thrones in fast cars,” says Paul Martin, one of the Drive to survive producers, and he’s not far behind. With incredibly high stakes at every turn, the spectacle is as intense to watch as the races live.

All seasons of Formula 1: drive to survive are available to stream on Netflix. The real drama about drivers and impossible races has won fans around the world and will continue to do so for at least two years to come.

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