Home TV News Is Drive to Survive More of a Scripted Drama Than a Sports Documentary?

Is Drive to Survive More of a Scripted Drama Than a Sports Documentary?

by Jason Smith

Is Drive to Survive More of a Scripted Drama Than a Sports Documentary?

We’re a few weeks into the 2022 Formula 1 season and the sport’s new rules have already thrown up plenty of excitement. In the first race alone, we saw Hamilton and his Mercedes team floundering in the mid-field before a disastrous final few laps for Red Bull resulted in the Brit securing third place. All the signs point to a nail-biting championship battle between several drivers, something that will also make betting on F1 even more popular. That’s likely to see demand increase for the free bet offers that most bookmakers provide in the coming months.

It’s also likely to result in an increase in the number of people tuning in to watch Netflix’s hit show Drive to Survive. But in recent weeks, questions have been raised about the accuracy of the dramatic narrative put forward by its producers and has even resulted in a meeting being called to discuss the show’s future.

But is Drive to Survive accurate in its depiction of what happened at the track?

What is Drive to Survive?

Drive to Survive is a documentary series that was created through a partnership between Netflix and Formula 1. Like other similar shows that are based around other sports, it offers a behind-the-scenes look into what happens at each of the races throughout the season.

The first season was released in early 2019 and followed the events of the 2018 World Championship and was so popular that three more seasons have been released.

Unlike the live and highlights coverage shown on channels like Sky Sports and Channel 4, Drive to Survive focuses on the people, mainly the drivers and senior team members. It’s helped personalities like Haas Team Principle, Günther Steiner, to become popular figures and even achieve meme status among F1 fans.

By focusing on people, relationships, and rivalries, Drive to Survive shows a different type of drama from F1.

In many respects, this has been good for both Netflix and the sport. The streaming company gets some quality content that attracts motorsports fans to its platform and Formula 1 gains exposure to new audiences. Through this exposure, Drive to Survive has been credited with boosting the popularity of F1 Grands Prix in the United States.

Documentary or Reality TV Show?

However, it is this focus on rivalries that has drawn a lot of criticism of Drive to Survive in recent weeks.

This criticism isn’t entirely new. In October 2021, Max Verstappen declared that he won’t be taking part in the show anymore, stating that he believes it creates “false rivalries”. Others have cited the show’s depiction of the tension between former McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz as manufactured drama between the two friends.

With fresh examples of this fabrication on display in the latest season, which hit Netflix in March, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has said that “a dialogue is needed” between Netflix and the drivers to ensure everyone is happy.

He added that he felt that drivers refusing to partake in the show was “not constructive”, but he recognised that everyone should feel comfortable with how they are represented on screen. He then went on to say that he wants to ensure that the narrative portrayed by Netflix in Drive to Survive “does not move away from reality” as, otherwise, the show is no longer fit for purpose.

Can the Show Survive?

This is going to be key for both F1 and Netflix as, up until now, both parties have benefited from the partnership as they’ve enjoyed increased viewership figures for both.

That said, if the show stops being a behind-the-scenes documentary and becomes an artificial drama created through creative editing, then it could lose the support of existing F1 fans and create false expectations for new ones.

Provided an agreement can be arrived at between Netflix, F1, the teams, and the drivers, then Drive to Survive certainly has a future, but right now, it risks becoming more akin with Keeping Up With the Kardashians than a piece of factual programming.

You may also like

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments