Netflix’s Formula One Drive to Survive, season one and two gave us unprecedented access to behind the scenes. We eagerly awaited the third iteration which would delve into the pandemic affected, shortened 2020 championship season for F1. It has finally arrived and like before, F1: Drive to Survive season three delivered just as expected. If you may not have seen it yet, and are worried about “Spoilers”, we already know what basically happened in the season. We may have more information about the championship, than Drive to Survive would inform. So, what we talk about, may not really be spoilers, however, we will try not to ruin the experience of it as well.
The dramatisation of the events, behind the scenes, reactions throughout the series was very entertaining. Some may not like the fact that the series did not follow a chronological path of the storyline which Drive to Survive chooses to take. But nonetheless, the storytelling was great and somewhat easy to follow. However, as a keen informed follower of the sport, I’m not sure if a regular viewer may easily grasp the whole picture entirely.
Season 3 started with of course the drama which ensued from pre-season testing. Beginning with Racing Point’s car reveal and hitting the race track like a supermodel and everyone’s eyes following it. It was more for controversial reasons for what was called the “Pink Mercedes”. It was followed by Mercedes’ ingenious DAS steering system which eventually gave them a hefty advantage over the course of the season and go on to win the championship.
It was also very interesting to see what happened behind the scenes and people’s real opinions moments before the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled. Following a few reported cases of the coronavirus in the paddock, Liberty Media cancelled the race and we all know what followed.
Two of the truest and most heart warming moments of the season gave us two feel-good episodes. One featuring Pierre Gasly’s last year’s demotion from Red Bull to his triumphant and fruitful victory at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza in 2020 for AlphaTauri. The second being the story behind Sergio Perez being let go from Racing Point despite his loyalty, and then winning the Sakhir Grand Prix after charging up all the way from the back of the pack. Of course who also then went on to remove Alex Albon from Red Bull and take his seat for the 2021 season. Alex Albon may want to avoid watching Season 3 himself for the way he was scrutinised in the series.
Ferrari’s 2020 woes with the departure of four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas’ rivalry with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes and mental battle against his critics was covered well in the series. But the fight for third in the championship between Racing Point, McLaren and Renault was the biggest talking point. Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo of course feature heavily in the show as well, along with Perez and Lance Stroll.
Season 1 rockstar and Haas F1 Team Principal, Gunther Steiner as always was given a decent amount of air time. It covered the reasons for Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen exiting the sport and the Haas team to make way two rookie drivers – Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin joining the team for 2021.
It was great that the show also touched upon the rivalry between Haas and the similarly equipped, but in form, Alfa Romeo F1 team and its drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi. Raikkonen fans will appreciate that he was finally involved in the series in his own peculiar and candid, albeit small manner. It was of course comedy gold as always, but his storming start at Portugal could have been integrated as well I believe. The last episode touched the sombre note about Lewis Hamilton’s fight against racism and using his platform to bring about change.
However there were some things we felt could have been portrayed better, and some moments from the season deserved mentioning at least. For example, George Russell driving for Mercedes at the Sakhir Grand Prix with a chance of proving his might was overlooked almost entirely. In fact, Russell seemed to have been more or less left out of season 3, apart from a couple of mentions of him replacing Hamilton and Mercedes pit stop blunders.
Nico Hulkenberg’s appearance with Racing Point filling in for Covid struck Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll respectively and his performance at Silverstone and the Nurburgring was never even mentioned. In fact, the Hulk only appears momentarily as a poster in the background once.
And finally, one moment everyone probably will be tuning in to watch. The horrific fireball inducing crash of Romain Grosjean at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The whole catastrophic incident which took a few moments in real life was, in my opinion, elongated for dramatisation for way too long. It felt like an eternity for Grosjean to exit the fireball and it could have been managed in a more respectful manner. But it was great to see him well, and finding humour in the darkest of times talking about it in interviews with his wife on the show.
Needless to say, Drive to Survive Season 3 may be a mixed bag of emotions. But so was the 2020 Formula One season itself. The worst part about the series however is that we now have to wait for another year to get season 4. Having said that, the 2021 Formula One season will finally be underway from March 26-28, when we really find out if Mercedes are really on the back foot and have Red Bull finally have a strong enough car to give them a chance to fight against the might of Mercedes.
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