5 interesting observations from watching Formula 1: Drive To Survive
IN MEMORY OF CHARLIE WHITING (1952-2019), YOU WILL BE MISSED.
As we get ourselves ready for another thrilling Formula 1 season, Netflix has given us something to watch before the engines rev up again - with the 10 part documentary series "Formula 1: Drive To Survive". Having watched the entire series within the space of two days (because I have nothing better to do with my life), I thought the series was an excellent watch - it allowed us more of an insight to an otherwise secretive sport, and told the story of the 2018 F1 season better than television coverage ever could.
With that in mind, here are five interesting observations from watching "Formula 1: Drive To Survive". But just a warning, there are massive spoilers in this article.
5) HAAS WERE UNFORTUNATE (AND SOMETIMES INCOMPETENT) IN 2018
A huge part of the series was the fortunes of Haas, who looked like they were going to be best of rest in 2018. With a decent car and two fairly capable drivers in Grosjean and Magnussen, it looked like the season opening Australian GP was going to be the start of something brilliant for the American outfit. But during the pit stops for both drivers, the mechanics failed to properly attach a tyre to the cars - meaning that both Grosjean and Magnussen had to retire from the race.
It's what happened in the garage that made me feel sorry for Haas. The footage of team principal Guenther Steiner trying to explain not one but two identical fuck ups in the pit lane over the phone to Gene Haas was gut wrenching, whilst you couldn't help but feel what the mechanics responsible were thinking at the time - as they sat in the paddock area wondering if they would still have a job for the Bahrain GP. Throughout the series, the theme of "Haas have screwed up again" is a common one. In what should've been a great year for the team turned out to be mediocre at best.
4) RED BULL'S RELATIONSHIP WITH RENAULT WAS A TICKING TIME BOMB
For those of you who don't watch F1 on a regular basis or are a complete beginner to the sport - you might be questioning why Red Bull and Renault ended their partnership on such bad terms. Basically, all four of Red Bull's drivers and constructors championships from 2010 to 2013 came when the energy drink giants had their cars powered by Renault engines. In 2014, the new V6 Turbo rules came in - and Renault lost out to Mercedes and Ferrari for the title of most powerful engine. Since then, the relationship between Red Bull and Renault has been hostile to say the least.
Both sides blamed each other for their respective issues, and by the halfway point of 2018 - Red Bull decided to cut their losses and signed with Honda for 2019 onwards. From the interactions shown on camera between Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and the inherently unlikable Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul - it was clear that these two guys couldn't stand one another, and the partnership between the two couldn't be salvaged. Thankfully, Red Bull seemed to be happy to be partnering up with Honda, and it will be interesting to see how they get on without Renault next season...
3) MERCEDES AND FERRARI WERE WRONG TO DENY THE FILMMAKERS ACCESS
I wasn't really surprised when I found out that both Mercedes and Ferrari had denied the filmmakers the same access that other teams had given them throughout the season. But looking at the story of the series as a whole, it later transpired that both of the frontrunners made the wrong decision - as there would've been of a couple of great stories to tell from both sides. The whole Mercedes team orders fiasco in Russia would've made for a fantastic episode by itself, whilst Kimi Raikkonen's redemption story would've fitted in perfectly.
By blocking out the filmmakers from their garages, Mercedes and Ferrari made themselves look pretty bad to casual viewers. But to us more diehard F1 fans, we all know that this was nothing more than a politics play by the two biggest teams in the sport - and they robbed us all of their side of the story in 2018.
2) DANIEL RICCIARDO'S SHOCK MOVE TO RENAULT WAS JUSTIFIED
One of the main story arcs in the series was Daniel Ricciardo's 2018 season. I think it's fair to say that the most likeable driver on the grid was screwed over multiple times by an unreliable Red Bull car throughout 2018, and if the car wasn't so shit - he would've been higher up in the drivers standings. Coupled with the fact that Red Bull were clearly favouring Max Verstappen over Ricciardo (which was the wrong move in my honest opinion), the Aussie had a bit of dilemma when it came to contract negotiations with Red Bull.
Eventually, Ricciardo decided not to renew with Red Bull - and instead signed with Renault for 2019. The filmmakers followed Ricciardo and his advisor around as they weighed up their options, and after seeing how frustrated Ricciardo was with the situation at the time - the decision to move to Renault was more than justified.
After seeing all of this, I hope Renault beat Red Bull this year...
1) THE WHOLE FORCE INDIA/RACING POINT FIASCO MADE FOR ENTERTAINING VIEWING
In the words of Will Buxton, Force India were a team who had achieved so much with so little. Their dramatic financial downfall at the mid-way point of 2018 and subsequent takeover by Lawrence Stroll was documented perfectly by the filmmakers.
The series managed to get former team owner Vijay Mallya to take part in filming, which was an achievement in itself. Given what was going on with criminal proceedings against Mallya, it was only a matter of time before his F1 team suffered as a result. Once that happened, Force India went into administration - and from then on, it was a rough ride for everyone associated with the team. The scene were the administrator and team principal Otmar Szafnauer addressed Force India's employees about the future of the team at their headquarters was a fantastic piece of filmmaking for sure.
After Lawrence Stroll's buyout of the team was complete - the discussion then turned to who would partner his son Lance Stroll at the newly christened Racing Point outfit for 2019. Knowing that one of the two drivers would be without a seat for 2019, the filmmakers followed both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in the final races of 2018 - and they both presented their own cases for why they should've got the 2019 drive. Eventually, Perez got given the second seat - leaving Ocon out in the cold for 2019.
It just shows that nothing is certain in the world of Formula 1, even if Ocon is miles better than Perez...