Hey, I want to recommend this sports documentary to you, as it’s wholly unexpected!
It’s a given that motor racing fans and dudes who are into sports will naturally watch this (released on Netflix on 8 March); but the surprising thing was that people who aren’t into F1, who don’t know anything about the sport, and viewers like my wife, actually really got into the series!
I noticed ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ listed as a new release on Netflix, then a friend (female) asked me if I’d watched it, because she had just finished the 10 part series and thought it was great! So when we sat down to experience it for ourselves I was surprised that my wife was just as into it as I was. After watching a couple of episodes, she quizzed me from interest about the format of races, the characters behind the sport (or under those helmets), who ends up winning the 2018 championship, and when I asked her if she would consider watching a real F1 race on TV, her answer was ‘Maybe’- when previously she would’ve looked at me like I was asking the most ridiculous question. And when we were down to the final half of the series and we were well and truly sucked in, my wife would ask “F1?” when we set-up for a night in, in-front of the TV as it had become like a binge-worthy drama which we couldn’t get enough of! So what was it about this macho sport which captured the attention of such a diverse array of viewers?
Was it the young handsome F1 drivers? Was it the glitz and glam of race weekend? Or was it the need to find out who wins the championship in the end? It was none of these things! But it was just the amazing way the producers (James Gay-Rees, Paul Martin, and Sophie Todd) were able to weave in the stories of the drivers, the teams, and make it a compelling narrative which unfolded like a drama throughout the doco series- which actually unfolded that way in real-life during the 2018 F1 season. For example, the cameras were there to witness the collapse of a team; the retirement of a 2 time World Champion; and the defection of our boy Danny to a rival team. The 2018 season naturally unfolded in a dramatic way- the producers couldn’t have scripted it any better than this!
What made Drive to Survive a next-level doco- was the unbridled access that the camera crews had to the teams and drivers (when previously F1 operated behind closed doors), where we were able to glimpse behind the curtain and learn about what drives these men, the insecurities each driver possessed, and also the uncertainty that each lived under- not knowing if they would be competitive that week, if they would have a job by the end of the season, or could they become the next transcendent superstar in their sport! It was this human aspect to the sport which I think connected with the viewers, so it wasn’t all just cars and dude-stuff, but it was the people and the emotions behind the sport.
But from a sporting point of view, the production was slick and immersive. The actual audio volume levels when people were speaking were quite low, so you inevitably crank up the volume on your TV so you can hear them better. But when the scenes cut to the track, and the sound of the exhausts and the screaming engines shoot across your screen, these action scenes were at normal sound volumes thus it felt like you’re actually track side – right there as these majestic machines go hurtling down the tarmac and cause your TV to shudder under the decibels as you had the volume cranked up to 70! It seriously gets your heart racing and adrenaline pumping just viewing it from the comfort of your couch!
Initially I thought I already knew most of the drivers, as I’m a bit of a F1 fan and subscribed to a couple of F1 podcasts who base their shows on interviews with drivers, but Drive to Survive were able to uncover stories and approach them from an angle which I hadn’t heard of before, so that was refreshing. I understand that Ferrari and Mercedes did not agree to be filmed for this season, so the behind the scenes stories for the 2 most competitive teams weren’t told in season 1. However the documentary didn’t suffer much as a result of this, not having the voice of the front-runners and ultimate winners of the championship there. Instead we got a healthy dose of our local hero- Daniel Ricciardo (surprisingly he had a bit of a potty mouth on him) and it was good to see some of the more ‘unsung heroes’ from Formula One get their time in the lime-light.
So if you haven’t yet watched Formula 1: Drive to Survive, place all of your preconceptions of sports documentaries aside, and approach it with an open mind- I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and you’ll enjoy it!
To watch now, click here! Where you’ll see how these young men really need to ‘Drive to Survive’ in the most cut-throat and fickle profession in all of professional sports!