Under the new commercial ownership of Liberty Media, F1 is forging ahead like never before. Year on year the race calendar grows with a record 23 venues set to host a race weekend this season.
New promoters and venues are lining up to host a Formula One event. The inaugural Miami grand prix last season sold out in just over 30 minutes and other events are producing record crowds year on year.
Formula One is indeed in rude health.
Drive to Survive 2021 hard act to follow
Much of this can be attributed to Liberty Media’s engagement of Netflix to produce their ‘Drive to Survive’ series the latest of which is due for release this week.
Netflix have a hard act to follow this year given their last offering covered the epic year of racing in 2021.
The enthralling battle between title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen came to life at the Monaco Grand Prix when the Dutch driver claims his maiden victory around the streets of the Principality as the momentum swings his way.
Horner cast as master strategist
Red Bull’s run of five successive victories causes increasing consternation for Hamilton who is filmed examining the Red Bull car up close in the pit lane before heading back to the garage and discussing it with his boss Toto Wolff.
Yet the competition between the Red Bull and Mercedes team bosses is even more compelling than that between the title contenders, partly because Verstappen refuses to play ball much of the time.
Horner is depicted as a master strategist providing plenty of off camera commentary. He says of Wolff, “He inherited something that was already well-oiled. He hasn’t had to build anything. He operates the team differently to me. He’s more motivated by the financials, rather than the competition.”
Wolff calls his rival “grumpy”
The Red Bull chief is referring to the fact that Ross Brawn established the team for Toto Wolff to come in with his backers and take over after the ground work has been completed.
Wolff in turn jobs back at Horner telling him to camera “don’t be too grumpy” following a Mercedes race win.
The season concludes with dramatic images of Toto Wolff throwing his headphones down in disgust at the decision by the race director in Abu Dhabi, then pleading for the result to be certified before the final lap.
DTS content ‘made up’ says Wolff
Yet despite the shaky camera fly on the wall style documentary feel of Drive to Survive, Toto Wolff reveals a fair amount of the content is ‘made up’.
“It’s scary how much we let them in,” says Wolff. ”You hate to see yourself in there. They create a spin to the narrative – they put scenes together that didn’t happen.
“I guess you’d say as an insider, ‘well that’s different than how it was’. But we’re creating entertainment, and that is a new dimension of entertainment.”
Epic clash in Canada for DTS this year
This years DTS has a hard act to follow yet there were a number of dramatic off track moments for the cameras to follow.
Last summer reports emerged of an epic clash between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner in Montreal at a meeting of the team principals on a “different scale” with Wolff understood to have “lost his s***” at the Red Bull boss.
Mercedes were demanding the other team bosses support their call to the FIA to consider driver safety as the proposing saga continued to dominate the headlines.
By all accounts Horner and Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto told Wolff to put his own house in order first.
F1 bosses play up to DTS cameras
Christian Horner emerged claiming his Mercedes counterpart brought “an element of theatre” into the meeting that was filmed by Netflix for Drive to Survive.
Max Verstappen has been a relatively low profile figure in the annual Netflix F1 drama and when asked why last season he explained “They fake a few rivalries which don’t really exist.”
“So I decided to not be a part of it and did not give any more interviews after that because then there is nothing you can show. I am not really a dramatic show kind of person, I just want facts and real things to happen.
Verstappen questions DTS integrity
“The problem is they will always position you in a way they want, so whatever you say, they will try to make you look reckless or trying to make you… whatever fits the story of the series. So I never really liked that. I prefer to just have a one-on-one interview with the person who would like to know me.”
For F1 overseers and fans who follow Formula one closely, at times the extremes of Drive to Survive become irritating.
More importantly, history is recorded in a number of ways and in several decades time, the Netflix record of what really happened during a Formula One season may outweigh the millions of words written week in and out by those reporting a more accurate version of events.
He’s right & so is Max, but unfortunately, their approach is unlikely to change.
Additionally, I thought everyone had stopped referring to LM as ‘new’ owners, considering they’ve been the commercial rights holders for more than six years, so far from new anymore.