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How Drive to Survive Changes Formula 1

The 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 for not only the fifth but also the sixth season as well. Each season follows the teams in Formula 1 during a championship, which happens for the duration of one year.

It’s no surprise how much power streaming television has gained in the past few years. Series can dictate the Billboard 100, as with stranger things‘ use of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill.’ They can also influence well-known holidays: the costume that was worn in MoneyHeist has become one of the most popular costumes during Halloween since the premiere of the streaming series. The street food shown in Squid Game had a ridiculously high increase in search traffic after the show aired, changing the lives of families who earned their main income selling this food.


cheer is a great example of another docuseries about a sport that intoxicated audiences worldwide – shocking everyone when it was discovered that one of the participants on the program was involved with child pornography. It would be no different for a documentary series about the high-stakes sport of racing, but even established fans were surprised by how big Formula 1 became after the Netflix series. Drive to Survive It opened the door to new fans, but also new opportunities for people working in Formula 1. Here is how the documentary series changed the sport.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive is Approachable

One of the main things that really helped people fall in love with the show, and therefore the sport, is how approachable it is. The rules of the races, how the engines work, the contracts and what they entail for drivers and their teams, and every other important aspect of the sport is dutifully explained in a way that is far from boring for those who know the sport, but also easy to follow for the 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 pilots and their teams take the time to explain these concepts in simple terms. It can be daunting to start watching a new sport due to all the spoken and unspoken rules that happen during the matches or, in this case, races, but the people involved in Drive to Survive made sure the sport was as approachable as possible. This also helped break the barrier the sport had faced for quite some time of being ‘a European sport’ closed off for anyone who hasn’t been a fan for years. The show became so successful that viewership of the sport increased by almost 50% worldwide. Formula 1 has branched out to every continent, and Netflix has a huge part in it.

More Resources In Formula 1

The sport has seen an all-time high in resources due to the show, which can only mean one thing: faster cars, which leads to better races. The Grand Prix attendance has increased, and so has the search for hotels near the tracks (which is only one of the direct influences on tourism the Grand Prix can have). Also, the increase in viewership on television and specialized Formula 1 channels translates to the sport receiving a big increase in resources and overall capital.

Another big part is that Netflix has to pay the teams that are featured in the series. Mclaren’s F1 CEO explained that everything starts with fans: if there are fans around the world, more countries want to hold races. This obviously leads to more sponsors who want to support teams and individual drivers (or ‘pilots’), which leads to bigger salaries for everyone involved, let alone more daunting races with better equipment. Formula 1 is extremely expensive, and the higher the viewership and general interest from the public, the higher the paychecks will be for the teams.

Related: Sunderland ‘Til I Die: A Brilliantly Unconventional Sports Docuseries on Netflix

As said in the docuseries various times, this is not a sport that only relies on the person doing it. The teams with bigger budgets, such as Ferrari and Mercedes, translate to a better car, and that means more wins. Both teams refused to be a part of season one of the show because they did not know how it would hinder the teams’ concentration during the race, but both have since become a part of the show after its massive success. The driver can make a world of difference, but if the car is not fast enough, it would take an unlikely miracle to win.

The Ultimate Competition

As said by Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner in the show, “Formula 1 is the ultimate competition: you’ve got drama, competitiveness, high stakes, politics.” The stakes are high in every episode and every aspect possible: millions can be lost if the team underperforms, contracts can be extinguished, careers can be ruined, and most important of all: every time a driver is behind the wheel they have a chance of crashing and ultimately putting their lives at risk. Unfortunately, many excellent drivers lost their lives on a racetrack, because of how dangerous the sport is.

That 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 appeal to an audience. The high drama between teams and teammates (something that was called out by Red Bull pilot Max Verstappen and the reason he is not a part of the new season) is appealing to watch. “We used to joke in the early days that it was game of Thrones in fast cars,” says Paul Martin, one of the Drive to Survive producers, and he is not far off. With the incredibly high stakes at every turn, the show is as intense to watch as the live races.

all seasons of Formula 1: Drive to Survive are available to stream on Netflix. The real drama about the drivers and impossible races has gained fans worldwide and will continue to do so for at least two more years to come.

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