Traditionally, the current season of the docutainment format "Drive To Survive" lands on the Netflix streaming service, a week before the new racing season begins. This is both irritating and ingenious at the same time: while Formula 1 fans are already thinking about the new cars, the new team compositions and possible surprises at the first race of the year (March 4th and 5th in Bahrain), the catapults popular show they suddenly go back a whole year. Back to the beginning of last season – the outcome of which we already know.
You might think that would be boring, but it isn't. Many events that were only experienced from the perspective of the viewer during the TV broadcast of the races are illuminated here with relish from the inside perspective of the teams. Swearing team bosses, contrite drivers, angry drivers, stunned mechanics. "Drive To Survive" gives a face to the often ridiculed racing. Instead of a documentary series, it often gives the feeling of a soap opera. Emotions, ambition, enmity, friendship, victory and defeat - not even "GZSZ" can keep up.
And as much as the cool, controlled Mercedes boss Toto Wolff or the talkative and camera-loving Red Bull boss Christian Horner would like to be the face of this show - in the end it's always Günther Steiner, boss of the rather weak Haas racing team, who wins the hearts of the audience wins. Furrowed face, cold sweat on his forehead, resignation in his eyes: there doesn't seem to be a breather for the man. Haas has a really solid car in 2022, but the Russian driver Nikolai Mazepin is promptly eliminated due to the sanctions against Russia. Probably not the biggest loss in principle - Mazepin's performances were far from satisfactory. But how do you get a new driver at such short notice?
Steiner has to call Kevin Magnussen from Denmark, whom he himself fired a few years earlier. Probably not the most pleasant call. And then Magnussen also does a 1A job - which seems to both confuse and shame the team boss.
Next problem: Mick Schumacher, the second driver in the stable, does not deliver compared to Magnussen, but crashes the expensive vehicle several times. Steiner is under pressure from team owner Gene Haas to get rid of the 23-year-old, while on the other hand all German fans feel like cheering for Schumacher junior and Mother Corinna is sitting in the backstage area in person, with whom no one from the motorsport industry really messes would want, out of respect. A bitter situation ... as always.
We also watch as Mercedes, for the first time in what feels like decades, struggles with a car that doesn't run perfectly. And how Ferrari tumbled down the table from a terrific start to the season through one strategy mistake after the other. And again, as an audience, we know how this will turn out: Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto, who repeatedly has sympathetic appearances in "Drive To Survive", will have to go at the end of the season. Mick Schumacher will also have to leave at the end of the season. There you sit in front of the television and sigh pitifully.
Of course, the question of who will win in the end is all about the fastest cars and the best drivers. But the whole thing only becomes entertaining when you know all the faces and stories behind the fast cars, when you know what a crash means for a team like Haas (namely that Günther Steiner murmurs depressed: 'I'll have to call Gene' and has to shuffle to his office) and that a victory for Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz does not have to make Ferrari very happy. At the end of the day, it's always the people behind the machines that are interesting.
Drive To Survive Season 5 is streaming now on Netflix.