In 2019, Netflix released a new documentary series,”Formula 1:Drive to Survive” which brought about a huge rise in popularity for F1.
The docudrama, Drive to Survive was welcomed by F1 fans who got to see all the behind the scenes of their favourite races throughout the season. The drama and entertainment value of the series created a new audience for F1.
What is Drive to Survive about?
Drive to Survive follows the whole F1 season closely, giving us interviews with our favourite F1 drivers, behind the scenes footage and the highs and lows of F1 all condensed into 10 episodes. Formula 1 has always been a huge sport but since Netflix’s documentary series on the motorsport, popularity has only grown. People who would have never watched a Formula 1 race in their life quickly became fans of the sport after watching the first season of the hugely popular show. Each season of the show looks back on the previous Formula One season.
If you are interested in watching Formula 1: Drive to Survive but don’t feel like watching the whole four seasons you can read a summary of each episode below to get you up to date in time for season 5.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 1
Drive to Survive season one gave us an inside look into the 2018 World Championship. Not all teams or drivers featured in the first season of the Netflix show. Two of Formula 1’s biggest teams, Mercedes and Ferrari refused to take part in the filming. Season One brought us memorable moments from the 2018 season. Season One followed drivers like Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and teams like Renault and Red Bull.
Episode 1- All to Play For
Episode 1 follows Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo as he prepares for the first race of the 2018 season in his home country of Australia. Ricciardo didn’t do as well as he had hoped, finishing 4th. The episode also looks at Haas, who get their best ever qualifying but end up having to retire their cars due to difficulty in the pits. Viewers are also introduced to team principals Christian Horner and Guenther Steiner, who are prominent figures throughout the season. For those who have never watched F1, episode one explains some of F1 terms and
Episode 2- The King of Spain
Episode 2 zones in on Renault driver, Carlos Sainz Jr. as he prepares for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Viewers get a look into the driver’s personal life as the son of a World Champion. It also follows the F1 team McLaren as their driver Fernando Alonso fails to beat Sainz in Barcelona. The episode also shows the aftermath of teammates Max Verstappen and Ricciardo for Red Bull colliding against one another during the race.
Episode 3- Redemption
Episode 3 of Drive to Survive focuses on the Monaco Grand Prix and the Williams teams struggle to keep up. Viewers get an inside look into one of Ricciardo’s greatest wins of his career. The episode follows the race, the lead up and the celebrations. Ricciardo qualifies on pole, and feels the pressure from an engine failure, however in dramatic style, the Australian driver pushes through to win the race. Williams struggle to keep up with the other teams and suffers many poor results.
Episode 4- The Art of War
Episode 4 shows boiling point being reached between Red Bull and Renault. Team principals Horner and Cyril Abiteboul have words about Renaults engine supply which ultimately ends in Red Bull joining Honda. Ricciardo acts on his doubts with the Red Bull, expressing feelings that Verstappen is being favoured on the team and he makes the shocking decision to sign for Renault for the 2019 season. This move leaves Sainz Jr. without a seat for next year and questioning his future in the sport.
Episode 5- Trouble at the Top
Episode 5 shows the lead up to the British Grand Prix and focuses on teams McLaren and Force India. The episode sees McLaren CEO ak Brown pick up the pieces and rebuild the team after team principal Eric Boullier resigns due to McLaren’s poor performances as a result of an uncompetitive car. The episode looks at Force India driver Esteban Ocon beat McLaren to take sixth place from them in the Constructors Championship.Viewers get an inside look into Force India team principal Vijay Mallya’s legal problems which lead the team to be out into administration.
Episode 6- All or Nothing
Episode six introduces billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who purchases Force India with the exception that his son Lance Stroll will drive for the team in 2019. This leaves only one seat available for teammates Ocon and Sergio Pérez to fit for. The episode exploits the poor relationship between the two and the tensions between them on and off the track. In the end Force India announce that Pérez will stay with the team for 2019, leaving Ocon without a drive for the following season.
Episode 7- Keeping Your Head
Episode 7 focuses on Haas driver Romain Grosjean as he struggles to perform on the track. Nerves and lack of confidence in his driving results in Grosjean making many errors on the track and starting the season off on a bad note. The episode follows Grosjean’s performance at the French Grand Prix that finishes with a disappointing result for Haas. Team principal Gunther Steiner, shows Grosjean support but also expresses his doubts on the driver’s performance and how he can contribute to the 2019 season.
Episode 8- The Next Generation
Episode 8 of Drive to Survive gives viewers an inside look into rookie driver’s Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly as they try to make a name for themselves in the highly competitive sport and compete in the Singapore Grand Prix. It follows Gasly as he is named as Red Bull’s next driver, replacing Daniel Ricciardo and Leclerc as he replaces Kimi Räikkönen to be named Ferrari’s newest driver. Leclerc expresses the significance of signing for Ferrari.
Episode 9- Stars and Stripes
Episode 9 looks into the fight for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Teams Renault and Haas battle it out in the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. The series shows the drama and suspension surrounding the race from both teams points of view. The race sees Haas’ Grosjean retire and Renault’s Sainz Jr. penalised for breaking rules on track, leaving the teams with one driver each in order to secure fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship. Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg fight it out but it is Renault’s Hülkenberg who comes out on top.
Episode 10- Crossing the Line
Episode 10 shows the build up and drama that surround the final race of the season in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The episode looks at the end of some drivers careers and the beginning of others. It follows Ricciardo in his last race for Red Bull Racing in which he places fourth, just behind teammate Max Verstappen. The episode ends with team principals announcing their drivers and plans for the common season, with McLaren signing Sainz Jr. and Formula 2 driver Lando Norris. Fernando Alonso also announces his retirement after 18 years in the sport and two World Drivers Champions under his belt.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 2
Season Two of Drive to Survive looks at the 2019 World Championship and it features all 10 teams in the season, with Mercedes and Ferrari coming on board for second season of the Netflix documentary.
Episode 1- Light’s Out
The new season starts again at the Australian Grand Prix and shows all ten teams compete against each other. The episode follows Ricciardo on his first race with his new team Renault, however the first race of the year doesn’t go as Renault hoped with Ricciardo having to retire from the race. Christian Horner talks about Red Bull’s switch to Honda engines after being unsatisfied with Renault in 2018 and the moves works out with Verstappen placing third in Australia. Grosjean doesn’t seem to improve much from his 2018 season, with him having to retire his car in the first race of the 2019 season.
Episode 2- Boiling Point
Episode 2 follows Haas as they fail to improve in Formula One. With everything to prove, Magnussen and Grosjean are expected to perform at the Austrian Grand Prix. However, once again Haas underperforms with its two drivers finishing behind midfield team Williams. The episode reveals that Haas’ sponsor Rich Energy decide to end their sponsorship with the team due to poor performance just before the British Grand Prix. After the loss of sponsorship, no improvement was made with the two teammates crashing into each other at Silverstone, forcing them to retire. This is not taken well by Steiner or owner Gene Haas.
Episode 3- Dog Fight
This episode follows Ricciardo and Sainz Jr as they try to prove their worth to their new teams. Ricciardo struggles to get used to the Renault car after so many years with Red Bull Racing. Sainz Jr. talks about his hopes for his career with McLaren considering how the team has performed in the past. Viewers get to hear the drivers honest opinions and feelings about their switches. The episode sees Sainz begin to perform well with McLaren after a bumpy start to the season.
Episode 4- Dark Days
Episode 4 introduces Mercedes to the season after they decided to not appear in season one. It follows the team as they hope to secure their sixth consecutive World Championship. Viewers are introduced to team principal Toto Wolff who speaks highly of former three-time F1 World Champion Niki Lauda, who sadly passes away before the Monaco Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton dedicates his win in Monaco to the F1 legend. The episode also follows Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas as they take part in the German Grand Prix. After a great qualifying, the teammates have a disastrous race with Bottas retiring and Hamilton placing 11th.
Episode 5- Great Expectations
Episode five of Drive to Survive looks at Red Bull’s successful season so far with the Honda engines. Pierre Gasly expresses his struggles with the car and Horner becomes frustrated with the French driver. While Gasly grapples with the car, teammate Verstappen is proving his worth by winning the Austrian Grand Prix. Horner questions whether or not Gasly is the right fit for Red Bull and a strong enough driver to be teamed with Verstappen.
Episode 6- Raging Bulls
Episode 6 sees Red Bull act on their doubts and release Gasly from his contract, demoting him to Toro Rosso. He is replaced by former Toro Rosso Thai driver, Alex Albon. The episode shows the heartbreak and devastation felt by all in Formula One, when Formula 2 driver, Anthoine Hubert is killed in a collision with other drivers before the Belgian Grand Prix. The episode is dedicated to his memory. The day after the accident the drivers must race in The Grand Prix. Gasly, who was one of Huberts best friends finishes in ninth place with Albon finishing in fifth.
Episode 7- Seeing Red
Episode 7 follows team Ferrari, the longest serving team in Formula One in the 2019 World Championship. The episode gives viewers an insight into what it is like to drive for Ferrari and a brief history of the team. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel’s team rivalry is highlighted. Vettel is put under pressure to perform as he is a more experienced driver than his teammate. However, the four-time World Champion fails to keep up with Leclerc who places ahead of Vettel in Singapore, Russia and the United States Grand Prix. The episode also shows the celebrations of Leclerc winning Ferrari’s first home race in over 10 years at the Italian Grand Prix.
Episode 8- Musical Chairs
Episode 8 follows Renault driver Nico Hülkenberg who expresses his frustrations on his performance so far in his Formula 1 career. The German driver hopes to get his first win and podium this season in order to help secure his place in Formula One. Renault show favour with Ricciardo in Canada by ordering Hülkenberg not to overtake Ricciardo. The episode looks at the German Grand Prix as a chance for Hülkenberg to get a podium as Ricciardo retires from the race due to engine issues. However, Hülkenberg crashes into the barriers and fails to place. It is revealed that team principal Cyril Abiteboul decides to replace Hülkenberg with Esteban Ocon for 2020.
Episode 9- Blood, Sweat & Tears
Episode 9 follows team Williams as deputy team principal Claire Williams tries to improve Williams performance in Formula One and guard her father’s legacy. After a disastrous season the previous year, Williams decide to hire 2018 F2 champion, George Russell and former F1 driver, Robert Kubica. The drivers express their frustration about the problems with the Williams car which forces them to miss the first two days of pre-season testing. Key members of the Williams technical team quit for fear of blame being put on them for William’s misfortune.
Episode 10- Checkered Flags
Episode 10 shows the end of the 2019 season.The episode follows drivers Gasly, Albon and Sainz as they compete for their place on the podium. The Brazilian Grand Prix shows many dramatic moments with cars retiring, safety cars, teammates, Vettel and Leclerc colliding and post-race penalties for Hamilton. It sees Gasly take his first F1 podium and Sainz get moved to 3rd place as a result of Hamilton’s penalty. The season ends with Hamilton winning his 6th World Championship and Mercedes being named the Constructor’s champions for the sixth year in a row.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 3
Season 3 of Drive to Survive gave us many unforgettable moments. One of the biggest standout moments from the 2020 season would have to be Romain Grosjean’s breathtaking accident in Bahrain. In the midst of a pandemic the faith of the formula one season in 2020 was unknown, season three covered
Episode 1- Cash is King
Episode one really focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 on the Formula 1 season. The 2020 season begins with controversy over the design of Racing Point’s car resembling Mercede’s design. In pre-season testing, Racing Point’s pace and performance unsettles the other teams. The episode shows that Formula One couldn’t escape the pandemic as team members test positive for COVID-19, which results in the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix and many more races being cancelled. Concerns on the uncertainty of the future of F1 and the financial burden of it are expressed by teams.
Episode 2- Back on Track
Episode 2 follows the drivers as they prepare for their first race back in over 200 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Back on the track in Austria, the Red Bull and Mercedes rivalry is still strong. Mercedes new dual axis steering causes frustrations in Red Bull, who feel that it is an unfair advantage. This episode follows Alex Albon and Lando Norris as they try to prove themselves for their second season with their respective teams. Lando Norris has success in taking advantage of Hamilton’s penalty, setting the fastest lap in the race and getting his first podium.
Episode 3- Nobody’s Fool
Episode three follows Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas who expresses his frustrations at being second best to his teammate Hamilton, with Bottas often being asked to let Hamilton through in order to increase his chances of winning a title. The episode shows how Bottas gives Verstappen an advantage during qualifying in order to place himself in 3rd position for the starting grid. This is not received well by either Hamilton or Mercedes. However, this move and Hamilton’s 10-second penalty, allows Bottas to win the Russian Grand Prix and for Hamilton to place third.
Episode 4- We Need To Talk About Ferrari
Episode four of Drive to Survive follows the Ferrari team as they try to improve their performance after a disastrous 2019 Formula 1 season. The episode shows Ferrari drivers, Vettel and Leclerc struggle to get to grip with the car and it shows in the teams results.At the Italian Grand Prix, both drivers fail to finish the race with car malfunctions and crashes that force them to retire. The episode also reveals that while Leclerc has signed a five-year contract with Ferrari, Vettel has signed with Racing Point for the 2021 season.
Episode 5- The End of The Affair
Episode five shows the reaction to Ricciardo’s shocking announcement that he is leaving Renault for team McLaren, after only one year with the team. The episode looks at the strained relationship between Ricciardo and Abiteboul, who does not take the decision lightly. The drama follows Racing Point over their car’s design resembling Mercedes’ car last year. This ends with the FIA fining Racing Point €400,000 and deducting 15 points from them.
Episode 6- The Comeback Kid
Episode six follows Pierre Galsy as he improves his performance in Formula 1 with Scuderia AlphaTauri, formerly known as Scuderia Toro Rosso. The episode shows the emotions Gasly feels as he remembers the death of his friend Anthoine Hubert, F2 driver, when he travels to the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix. A week later at the Italian Grand Prix, a crash by Leclerc, a penalty for Hamilton and tight battle with Sainz Jr., leads Gasly to win his first ever Formula 1 race.
Episode 7- Guenther’s Choice
Episode seven looks at the pressure Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is under after the team’s worst season to date in 2019.The episode follows Steiner as he has to secure new sponsorship for Haas after their title sponsors Rich Energy left them last season. Steiner finds sponsorship in a German company with the exception that one of Haas’ drivers must be German. Guenther has to consider replacing one of his drivers for F2 champion Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Steiner finally makes a decision to release both drivers at the end of the season and hir Schumacher and Russian driver Nikita Mazepin.
Episode 8- No Regrets
Episode eight reveals that Carlos Sainz Jr is leaving McLaren to join Ferrari for the 2021 season. Sainz Jr. voices his frustrations at McLarens treatment towards him since the announcement, as he feels special treatment is being given to his teammate Lando Norris. The episode shows tension rise between the two teammates over decisions being made. Sain Jr. also expresses his concerns about Ferrari’s performance in the Italian Grand Prix Sainz jr. finishes 2nd while his team to be, Ferrari have yet another terrible weekend of racing.
Episode 9- Man On Fire
Episode nine is full of suspense and emotion. Magnussen and Grosjean have their careers on the line after being dropped from Haas for the 2021 season. At every race they must prove their worth to be in F1. The episode shows Grosjean miraculously survive his crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, in which he crashed into the barriers, splitting his car in two and engulfing him in flames. It also shows Sergio Pérez battle in the Sakhir Grand Prix to prove his place in F1. In the race Pérez drove the race of his life to come back from last place to finish first. The episode ends with Christian Horner congratulating Pérez on joining Red Bull.
Episode 10- Down To The Wire
Episode ten shows the lead up and final race of the season. With Mercedes and Red Bull ahead of the other teams in points and already secure in first and second place in the Constructors championship, teams McLaren, Racing Point and Renault are left battling for third place. During the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a failed power unit forces Pérez out of the race, leaving McLaren take third place in the Constructors Championship. Season three ends with goodbyes from drivers like Grosjean and Magnussen, Racings Points rebranding to Aston Martin and with Lewis Hamilton explaining his experience with racism in F1 after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in America.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 4
Season 4 of Drive to Survive shows the 2021 Formula One season, one of the most exciting and dog fight seasons F1 has seen in years. The season saw many new drivers such as Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin and Yuki Tsunoda make their Formula One debut.
Episode 1- Clash of the Titans
Episode one begins with the start of the 2021 Formula One pre-season testing in Bahrain. The episode looks at Mercedes ‘ dominance in Formula One over the last few years. In pre-season testing Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Bottas express their concerns over their new cars’ drivability. Pierre Gasly becomes the more experienced driver for AlphaTauri with the rookie driver, Yuki Tsunoda being the newest addition to the F1 team. Sainz Jr. and Ricciardo get used to their new teams while Mazepin has a terrible first race with Hass, with him crashing on the first corner.
Episode 2- Ace In The Hole
Episode two follows Daniel Ricciardo as he tries to prove his worth at McLaren to team principal Zak Brown. Daniel finds it difficult to get to grips with the McLaren car and doesn’t perform as he or McLaren would have hoped. Ricciardo feels the pressure from his teammate Lando Norris who is improving every season in McLaren. The episode shows Lando make the podium in Monaco while Ricciardo fails to place in the top 10.
Episode 3- Tipping Point
Episode three looks at the Mercedes and RedBull rivalry and things come to boiling point during an incident at Silverstone. During the British Grand Prix, Hamilton’s car clips Verstappen’s at the corner causing Max Verstappen’s car to crash into the barriers and put him out of the race. This incident adds to the already heated competitiveness between the two teams. Episode 3 also introduces Horner’s family and Wolff’s family and how F1 surrounds their life.
Episode 4- A Mountain To Climb
Episode four focuses on Haas and their rookie drivers Schumacher and Mazepin, the son of Haas’ newest sponsor. Haas hopes that their new drivers will improve on last season’s performance. The episode shows Mazepin having a difficult start to the season and expressing his feelings on the team’s hostile attitude towards him. Ahead of his home race in the Russian Grand Prix, Mazepin begins questioning whether or not Mick’s car and his car are the same and wants to make changes to his car.
Episode 5- Staying Alive
Episode five focuses yet again on the McLaren vs Ferrari battle. The second sprint race of 2021 in the Italian Grand Prix and what it entails, shown in this episode. Ferrari really feel the home pressure with McLaren taking front of the grid alongside Verstappen after the sprint race.The Italian Grand Prix also sees another big crash between Hamilton and Verstappen which takes them both out of the race. The race sees Ricciardo prove he still has what it takes in F1 by taking first place and Lando puts extra points on the board by taking second place.
Episode 6- A Point To Prove
Episode six is all about Williams Racing as it sees the Williams family step down from the team and welcome Jost Capito as the new CEO of the team. The episode follows Williams teammates George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. Jost’s energetic and matter of fact approach is certainly different for Williams but much needed. The episode also looks at Russell’s contract coming to end and Williams’ anxiousness over whether or not they will have the driver for next season.
Episode 7- Growing Pains
Episode seven focuses on the new talent in Formula One, Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauris newest addition to the team. The episode allows viewers to get to know Yuki better and how he is coping with all the changes to his life since joining the F1 team, it also shows a comedic side to the rookie. The episode also features Esteban Ocon and follows him as he wins his first victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Episode 8- Dances With Wolff
Episode eight follows the big decision that has to be made by Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff on whether or not he should stick with Valtteri Bottas or replace him with Williams driver, George Russell. After the summer-break it seems that a decision is yet to be made but after George’s outstanding lap in Spa at the Belgian Grand Prix impresses everyone including Toto Wolff, leading to George being named as Mercede’s driver for 2022 and Bottas without a seat.
Episode 9- Gloves Are Off
Episode nine looks at the rivalry between Mercedes and Red Bull, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. The tension builds up between the two teams over what has been a very intense season so far. The reveals that Hamilton notified officials that Verstappen ignored double yellow flags during Qualifying which caused him to go down five places on the starting grid.The episode also shows that there is no bitterness between Bottas and Wolff over Mercedes decision.
Episode 10- Hard Racing
Episode ten of Drive to Survive shows the incredibly controversial and intense final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. Netflix relives the race that nobody will ever forget, especially the last lap that put Hamilton and Verstappen head to head with one another to fight for the title. The episode shows brings us behind the scenes during that moment and shows the celebrations by Red Bull and Max Verstappen with his first ever Formula One Drivers Championship Title.
Formula 1:Drive to Survive Season 5
Release Date for Drive to Survive Season 5: As of now there has been no specific date released for season 5 of Drive to Survive. We do know that it will be early 2023 and if the past seasons are anything to go by, the new season could be released around February/March next year. It has also been confirmed that there will be a season 6 Drive to Survive.
Is it worth watching Drive to Survive?
Yes, whether you are a Formula One fan or not you should definitely give Drive to Survive a watch. Formula 1 fans that keep up with the season every year may find that the series over dramatises some aspects of the sports and can create fake rivalries between F1 drivers. This is all done for the entertainment value and to draw new audiences in and clearly it has worked.
Once you know that everything you see may be slightly exaggerated, Drive to Survive is very informative and shows the highs and lows of the sport. Fans get to see the personality’s of the drivers on the track and off it too, giving an insight into their personal life. It certainly isn’t boring, that’s for sure. With Formula One being the fast-paced sport that it is on and off the track, no season is the same. As of now Netflix and Formula One have signed on for another 2 seasons of Drive to Survive.