‘Drive to Survive’ Season 4 review: The show struggles to survive against the real life on-track drama 

Other than some witty foreshadowing in its narration, beautiful high angle shots of the cars on racetracks, and exploring certain teams’ financial conditions, the latest season really does not have much going in its favour

Updated - March 19, 2022 01:58 pm IST

Published - March 14, 2022 05:32 pm IST

Max Verstappen after winning the world championship

Max Verstappen after winning the world championship

The latest season of Formula 1 defied all expectations. One could not have had a better script at their hands. A jaw-dropping championship fight that went down to the wire with a last-lap pass to win it all, the race director getting sacked for his decision at the season finale, a tight fight for the Constructors’ championship.... this season had it all. The Drive to Survive team had a mammoth task of stitching together the 22 races into ten cohesive episodes. 

But despite being handed a thrilling script, the series struggles to hold its ground when compared to the real-time drama of the sport. Many of the editorial decisions made in the series are bound to leave fans of Formula 1 bewildered.

To begin with, the races that were crucial to the championship, like the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and Sao Paulo Grand Prix, find little to no mention in the series. Especially considering Lewis Hamilton went from taking a twenty-five place grid penalty to winning the race in Brazil and fighting his way back to close the gap in championship points; the stuff myths and legends and made of.

Apart from not giving importance to crucial races and excluding the current world champion’s home race, the series repeatedly showed footage of events of certain races multiple times, such as the championship contenders’ crash in Monza, Verstappen’s crash in Silverstone, and the turn one incident at the Hungarian Grand Prix. 

In races it does cover, the show chooses to ignore many key moments. In their episode on the Russian Grand Prix, the makers seem to solely focus on Nikita Mazepin, and ignore Hamilton’s iconic 100th race win and Lando Norris losing the race lead due to a strategic decision. With the show not maintaining any chronological timeline and repeating a lot of footage, it might become a tad confusing for people watching it for the first time.

It is also crucial to note that Drive to Survive does not enjoy a good reputation for being factually accurate. Last October, the current world champion, Max Verstappen, who chose to not be a part of the show, in an interview with the Associated Press said, “They faked a few rivalries which they don’t really exist”. The show continues with its history of factual inaccuracies this season when it showed a map of weather conditions at the Belgium Grand Prix... while talking about the weather in Sochi, Russia!

The title contenders’ crash at Monza

The title contenders’ crash at Monza

The focus from the very beginning of the series was on the championship fight, and rightfully so.

But as soon as the title fight became tighter towards the end of the year, the creators of the show start to narrow their focus and in the process lose control of the bigger picture. The focus is solely put on two teams, their drivers and their antics. And in the process, they forget to mention notable driver transfers: Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou to Alfa Romeo, and Alex Albon to Williams, something they have done in all their previous seasons. 

This season also conveniently ignored the retirement of Kimi Raikkonen, a former world champion and the F1 driver with the most race starts. Former world champions like Fernando Alonso, who came back to the grid in 2021 after a two-year sabbatical and Sebastian Vettel who changed teams are also under-represented.

Other than some witty foreshadowing in its narration, beautiful high angle shots of the cars on racetracks, and exploring certain teams’ financial conditions (especially Williams), the latest season really does not have much going in its favour.

However, if you are looking to get acquainted with the world of Formula 1, don’t let this stop you from watching the show. Despite its punctured narratives and blindspots, Drive to Survive serves as a great introduction to the pinnacle of motorsport.

Drive to Survive Season 4 is currently streaming on Netflix

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