F1 CEO Says Netflix’s Drive to Survive Isn’t Guaranteed to Continue

Though the Netflix show has attracted millions more fans across the globe, it needs to take the next step if it’s going to get more seasons.

byMar 4, 2022 3:51 PM
F1 CEO Says Netflix’s Drive to Survive Isn’t Guaranteed to Continue
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Netflix's docu-drama Drive to Survive has been an unquestionable boon for Formula 1. It helped establish many millions more F1 fans around the globe, especially in the United States, where the sport's exploding fanbase launched the 2021 USGP to an all-time record for race attendance. The show has done exactly what F1 needed it to, and now, series officials are evaluating whether to let the show go on, pull the plug, or simply hand the production over to a competing platform.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told Express that following the fourth season of Drive to Survive, debuting March 11, there will be little reason to let the show continue if it doesn't add value to F1. It's not a problem with the new season, which will revolve around one of the closest title fights in F1 history, and which Domenicali has seen and likes. The issue, rather, is whether the show simply retells the 2021 championship's story or finds a way to add value to it.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, Formula1.com

"There is no doubt that Drive to Survive has had an incredible effect, mainly on the new audiences, and also in other new markets like the U.S. for sure," Domenicali reportedly told Wall Street analysts. "And this will continue, and I can anticipate to you that you have to stay tuned to the new series, because I've just had the possibility to see it, and it will be fantastic, with the right tone. And as you can imagine, with what has happened last year, there will be a lot of action. So that's good."

"I think that it's important for us to be with Drive to Survive, with our Netflix friends, up to the moment where we believe that we'll make sure that it's a differentiating factor," he continued. "If it's becoming just a different way to speak about F1 without adding, or giving to the F1 platform any added value, maybe I think it's better to renegotiate and see with Netflix and with the other partners what could be a possibility to do something different in the future."

"But for sure, this platform has been a vital part on the growth of awareness, mainly with the young generation and with newcomers of F1. And for that we need to thank that vision, and the process and the quality, that has been really very, very good," Domenicali concluded.

The show, while generally well-received, has drawn criticism from preexisting F1 fans over its narrative direction. Drive to Survive has repeatedly fabricated storylines, glossed over pivotal moments, and misrepresented relationships within the sport for the sake of drama, rather than helping newcomers understand the sport. A perfect example can reportedly be found in the upcoming season according to Race Fans, which in a season preview has already identified an inaccurate portrayal of the (now final) Russian Grand Prix that elevates the widely loathed Haas driver Nikita Mazepin.

It is these moments that F1 is likely scrutinizing now that fans brought in by Netflix are learning enough about the sport to spot when drama is being played up. Perhaps Drive to Survive needs a new emphasis on integrity if it wants to secure a future beyond its fifth season—though even that isn't yet guaranteed.

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