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Push, Push, Push

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Formula 1 Drive to Survive Season 5

Netflix Documentary Series Review


by Danielle Badler

Here’s my problem with Season 5 of “Drive to Survive,” which is airing now on Netflix. It’s the producers’ view of the car vs driver equation. Can you say “myopic?”


Let me explain. It’s something we Porsche people all know. We’re the ones who’ve always known, that it’s a balance of car and driver. And, as the decades have come and gone, the pendulum has swung way, way over to the car. At least in top-level racing. Yes, the driver makes a difference. But less and less as time has marched on.


Yet Season 5 and let’s face it, each preceding season of Drive, has focused to a very large extent on the drivers. And their teams, and their careers, and their team principals, and their contracts, and their sponsors.


And, if I hear it one more time, I’m going to throw my OLED big screen off a cliff, how they have to push. Push push push. They always have to push. They have to be told, over the intercom, there’s one lap left, now it’s time to push. C’mon, let’s push. I mean … I have a question for everyone else in F1; what are drivers doing the rest of the time, when they’re not pushing? Just cruising down the boulevard? Listening to tunes? Making a run to the nearest In-N-Out Burger?





Hey, pushers, what about the car? I mean, really! From watching last season, in real-time, we all know, all too well, about the “porpoising” phenomenon on many cars, especially Mercedes. Now, in Drive, I think I heard it just touched on, two, three, maybe four times in the course of 10 long episodes.


Oh, we heard how the season was such a black mark on Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, and on Lewis Hamilton, searching for the pace to claim a record eighth world championship and bury the ignominious conclusion of the 2021 season-ending race. And we watched Max just sail by Lewis, to win the driver’s championship. Once again with feeling; how did they do it? It was clear it wasn’t just Max’s brilliance behind the wheel. Although he was, indeed, clearly brilliant.


What exactly was Mercedes’ problem? And, importantly, why was Red Bull not porpoising? Nor Ferrari? I’ll give you a preview; you won’t find the answer on Season Five of Drive to Survive.


Nor did they give many references to the major rule changes for 2023. What rules? What changes? They wanted to make passing easier, to make for a better show … what did they do? You won’t find out by watching.


And the cars themselves. We get shot after shot, all in vivid HD video, over the shoulder. You can see the steering wheel, the digital readout, and the myriad dials and switches, that are all attached to the steering wheel. Fine. Now, here’s a simple request; explain it. Explain some of it. Explain any of it.


Same for the performance envelope of a current F1 car. Horsepower. The hybrid system. How it regenerates energy. How the drivers have an accelerator and a brake, and use one foot for each. How fast it accelerates. How fast it brakes. The g-forces it generates in a corner. Any of the above. Ever.


I mean, they certainly had the opportunity this year. Because Max and Red Bull just ran away with the season. Which pushed (ahh, so sorry, I won’t use the word again, I promise) the producers to look elsewhere for their human-interest story. They found it with who would win out to be … I’m not kidding … the fourth best team. Alpine or McLaren. And who would drive in 2023 for these same mid-pack teams? What?


I do have to call out one interesting comment by Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal. It’s about Max’s genius. At one point, he says Sergio Peres, Verstappen’s teammate, has studied Max’s readouts, his speed around the track, and all the telemetry, and he can’t figure out how Max does it.


I’m reminded of Jim Clark’s comment, “I brake a little later.”


Oh, I also watched the Netflix series on tennis and the Netflix series on golf. These series were interesting because they also concentrated on several top-flight competitors.


But they didn’t have a choice! A tennis racket or a golf club is not a 1,000 hp race machine, hand-built with unobtainium. And, while there may be performance differences in rackets and clubs, they’re infinitesimal compared to a race car. And, besides, players are free to experiment with the wares of the manufacturers. Let’s put it this way; have you ever heard a tennis player or a golfer complain that they lost the tournament because of their equipment?


No. And that’s the point. Drive to Survive is becoming a soap opera of … I won’t say it …. See for yourself, or don’t.



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