Holding a global value of around $5billion, Formula 1 is one of the richest sports in the world, with individual teams like Mercedes spending a whopping £324million in 2020 to win its seventh Constructors Championship, and securing Lewis Hamilton his seventh World Championship. But has the hit Netflix series, Drive to Survive had an impact on F1?
Drive to Survive made its debut on Netflix in 2019, giving viewers an insight into the sport like never before with intense conversations with drivers and team principles, as well as behind the scenes access to the factories.
Long time fans of the sport have often been critical of the show, created by Box to Box for Netflix, stating that the edit has enhanced everything from driver rivalries to signings, the rise and fall of Team Principals and even teams. But one can only wonder if this was the plan all along in order to get more heads turning towards one of the fastest sports around.
It shines a spotlight on the lives that the drivers live off the track so that we get to really know the person behind the helmet. We learnt the blood, sweat and tears that these drivers pour into their sport, how they bounce back when it gets really tough. It’s actioned packed, there’s no doubt about it. Season three speaks for itself; not only did it take a turn with the pandemic, but also Romain Grosjean’s crash in episode nine, which left him with severe burns.
After its debut, the show began to reach new gears, and a recent article by the New York Times states that the 2019 Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, had to adapt for an additional audience of 20,000. ESPN also reported that viewing figures had shot up by 381,000 since the show was first released. Its success in the States has had such a huge impact that a new race in Miami, Florida has been added to the 2021 calendar. So while there is no solid proof that the show has had a positive impact, a quick scan of facts and figures pretty much speaks for itself.
It’s not just the States that the show’s had an impact on, it’s people who before the show, probably wouldn’t have given the sport a glance. Last year in phase one of lockdown, I found myself binging series one and two in pretty much one go, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Drive to Survive is the perfect introduction to the sport if, like me, you occasionally sat and watched it with your parents. You get to know the ins and outs without having to spend hours on the internet digging into what DRS is or what it means to give a rival driver a toe. And I’m not the only one who’s fallen in love with F1 this way, it’s happened to people I know, too.
When series three was released earlier in the year it was trending across social media, with drivers themselves even Tweeting about certain elements of the show. George Russell, who currently drives for Williams, was quick to make jokes about his lack of appearance in the latest series, despite the exciting season he’d had in stepping in for World Champion Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir GP. The show’s done so well that it’s even had drivers talking, that’s got to count for something, right?