Valtteri Bottas (L) and Lewis Hamilton (R) shake hands after a race. Bottas gets far more screen time than his teammate, who only broke a number of long-standing F1 records in 2020. It’s an odd omission by Netflix. [credit:
Drive to Survive, the fly-on-the-wall documentary about Formula 1 racing, started streaming its third season on Netflix last Friday. Once again, the camera crews were in the right place to capture some spectacular footage, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, particularly in 4K. Fans of the previous two seasons will be treated to more effing and blinding, particularly from Gunther Steiner, team principal for Haas F1. But the devoted F1 follower may well feel short-changed from the 10-episode run that leaves out some of the 2020 season’s biggest storylines.
When F1 changed hands in 2017, one major job for the new owners at Liberty Media was to start growing the sport. In years past, F1 repeatedly claimed it was the most-watched sport on the planet after the Olympic Games. But the sport’s audience has shrunk precipitously over the past couple of decades, mostly because of pay-per-view TV deals in its key markets like the UK and Germany that took the races off free-to-air channels.
Among the moves that Liberty made was inviting a Netflix documentary crew into the paddock throughout 2018, giving the media company’s cameras unprecedented access on race weekends. Most of the teams and drivers were similarly accommodating, although not all—neither Mercedes nor Ferrari agreed to participate, and both teams and their four drivers were virtually absent from season 1. That first season definitely got F1 in front of a lot of new eyeballs, and the absence of megastars like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel allowed some of the drivers to shine.