Formula 1: Drive to Survive from Netflix includes endless drama, backstabbing and overwhelming display of ego which adds to making it so fascinating. Bahrain Grand Prix. Picture: Reuters

For many young South Africans, their introduction to Formula 1 arrived from the races that would be on every Sunday on one of the national broadcaster channels.

Often, there would be little to watch and the only thing worthwhile would be the Formula 1 race - sitting down, watching cars race each other in a circle for laps at a time.

It came across as dull and dreary, and not remotely interesting. 

However, with maturity comes wisdom and understanding that just because you might not fully understand something it doesn't necessarily make it boring.

It was with an open mind that I then decided to watch the 'Formula 1: Drive to Survive' docu-series that debuted March 8 on Netflix, despite not being remotely interested in the sport. 

The docu-series surprised me and from the first episode it had me hooked and within four days I finished all 10 episodes.

It was very fascinating and surprised me with the level of drama, intrigue, lies and manipulation on display in the sport. It proved to be one of the best recent docu-series I've watched and was able to make the intricacies of Formula 1, easy to understand without diluting the sport's essence.

Here are 5 things 'Formula 1: Drive to Survive' reveals about F1 racing:

1. 'Money money money money'

The series manages to highlight just how important it is having money to pour into getting an efficient engine and steering a team to success in F1. Ferrari reportedly spends over £300m (nearly R6 billion) with one of the smaller teams, Williams Martini Racing spending more than £170m (over R3 billion). 

It makes sense that money spent on teams would have an impact, but this has grown to such a sore-point that according to Forbes, they league is hoping to implement a limit on the budgets of $150 million (just over R2 billion) - despite previous attempts failing to succeed.

It is utterly fascinating watching such an excess of wealth on display throughout the series, as it impact on teams as it plays a massive role in contributing towards how teams fair through a F1 season.

2. Balancing act

After completing the series it looks as if it would be perfect material for a psychologist to tackle and write a dissertation about. The series perfectly reveals the copious amount of lying, moral boosting, ego-stroking and brutal honesty involved in Formula 1.

Clever edits have people feigning politeness only for their real feelings to be revealed in confessionals or in conversations. The team directors have to be supportive authoritative figures, while also pushing their drivers to their limits in order for them to achieve success.

The shows does not also shy away from digging into the mental strength, and bravado needed by these drivers.

It's enthralling witnessing the men reveal that they aren't scared of dying in their cars, but are rather scared of being failures within the sport. 

3. Talent only gets you so far

In one episode, the show tackles a driver getting ousted from a team, not because he isn't talented but rather due to blatant nepotism.

It is interesting how in society, we believe this narrative that 'talent and hard work will help you thrive' but the shows reveals that business is a bloodbath and sometimes talented people have to pay the price.

The show highlights that - it's not personal, it's just the F1 business.

4. Press conferences are full of drama

I could explain the level of craziness involved in their F1 press conferences, and how zany and out-of-hand they get but the below video will capture this. Some of the footage below is used within 'Formula 1: Drive to Survive'.

5. The Power of Strategy

The show does stress that everyone is driving to win, but more-so, it emphasises the racing season. 'Formula 1: Drive to Survive' shows that while each race may be a battle, the long-term goal for F1 teams is to win the war - accumulating as many points for the season as possible. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of the show was the rivalry between Renault and Redbull. The tension between the two teams is expertly laid out in the 'Art of War' episode, and it is arguable a standout in the docu-series as it highlights just how important strategy is in ensuring not only success within F1, but ultimately survival.


I really enjoyed this show. It was surprising and very enthralling. It included endless drama, backstabbing, bravado, posturing, entitlement and overwhelming display of ego which all added to making the docu-series so fascinating.

Will this make me watch F1? Highly unlikely. 

The show has highlighted how toxic the men involved in the sport can be, and how zany Formula 1 itself is. 

Though a larger part of my disinterest could be attributed to the fact that I don't care enough about F1 racing to watch it.

However, will I watch another season of 'Formula 1: Drive to Survive'? Absolutely.

Netflix did an incredible job commissioning this series. 

The editing is phenomenal, the fact that the camera caught so much of the drama that people may want hidden, only added to the authenticity of it. The show is highly recommended. 

Rating: 8/10

@thelionmutters

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