By Erin Holly McDermott, Editorial Staff (‘23)
Netflix released season 4 of Drive to Survive on March 11th, 2022. The show is focused on the European-based, international sport Formula 1 (F1), which, for those who are unaware, is essentially a mixture of go-kart racing and car racing (known as chassis racing). F1 is a large corporation that generates hundreds of millions in tourism to countries. For example, 34 countries have participated in Formula 1 by sponsoring races at their racetracks. F1 is behind big names such as Michael Schumacher, Alan Prost, James Hunt, Aryton Senna, and more. For F1 lovers like myself, the show can be exceptionally dramatic, interesting, and fun to watch and critique.
This season of the show presented a special set of circumstances. Possibly the largest name in F1 in this era is Lewis Hamilton. Lewis Hamilton is a British racing driver for the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team that has won 7 World Titles. The legendary Michael Schumacher is the only other person to win this many times. However, a young Belgium-Dutch driver for Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen, has revealed himself as a challenge to Hamilton. Verstappen won the World Driver’s Championship for the 2021 season, beating Hamilton to an unprecedented 8th world title.
The show is nothing but dramatic: the producing team intensifies every single race, every event, every crash, and every press conference. The sport does have an aspect of natural liveliness to its name; not many other sports share the same amount of risk and reward as Formula 1. Regulation changes, race strategy, and car function serve as curveballs for all 20 drivers at every Grand Prix and bring the audience to the edges of their seats. At times, the thrills can become exaggerated, the moments overdramatized – this fact is not a secret and serves as the largest point of critique for the show.
However, it should be remembered that this show aims to create money for Netflix. Drive to Survive profits off scandals present in every F1 paddock. For example, the McLaren 1-2 in Monza, Italy, the rivalry between George Russel and Valteri Bottas for the next season’s Mercedes 2nd seat, and the competition between rookie Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon had an impact on the number of viewers. I watched the entire 4th season over a few days – I was simply hooked. The drama draws you into the show and continues to enlarge the viewer’s attention and interest, and encourages you to keep your ever-increasing in price Netflix membership. This season primarily focused on the fight between Verstappen and Hamilton that uncharacteristically continued until the last 10 laps of the final race in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Personally, I credit the Netflix show, as dramatic as it may be, for the increased interest in the historic sport. The number of Americans watching the show and then continuing to watch the F1’s season races has skyrocketed. This increase has resulted in two US races for the 2022 season. Historically, every country is granted one race per season; however, the United States has one in Miami and another in Austin. Even though the sport is nuanced and complicated, I would recommend anyone to give the show a chance. You might just enjoy the sport and the drivers and formulate your own opinions about the non-typical sport. Formula 1 has been around for decades and won’t go anywhere for a while either, so give it a chance. You may even end up trying your hand on a karting track!