It was over five years ago that I lamented that I don’t like to watch racing. That remained true until very recently. In that article I talked through the different forms of motorsports that I’ve tried to get into. That list included big time players like NASCAR and F1 as well as WRC and Sports Car racing. In the end, while I had a tertiary understanding of how each series functioned, I didn’t watch any of them with any regularity. My self assessed conclusion was because I didn’t really know the drivers, their personalities, and hence it was difficult to find someone to root for.
That all changed, thanks to Netflix.
During a trip to Greece this past week, I delved into the Netflix series
“Formula 1: Drive to Survive” and it’s fantastic. My colleagues over at Jalopnik wondered “who is this for?” and I can say with some authority, it was for people like me. People who are into cars, but don’t know the difference between Torro Rosso and Red Bull (still a little confused on that one…).
The series debuted back in March, so I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’m glad I showed up. The ten part series focusing on the 2018 Formula 1 season delves into the back stories of the teams that typically finish between 3rd and 10th (there are ten total teams). Heavy hitters Mercedes and Ferrari declined to participate, and I’m totally OK with that. Because now I have a much deeper appreciation of less well-known teams. Best yet, I’ve got people to root for, and to root against.
Episode one starts by following Daniel Ricciardo in the lead up to the 2018 Australian Grand Prix. Ricciardo was one of the drivers that I was familiar with and I always liked the fact that he is always smiling in press photos. You’ll find during episode one that that smile fades and is replaced by a string of obscenities during moments of the 2018 season.
Other episodes focus on struggling teams like Williams, and Sahara Force India, who wrestle with limited budgets and the politics surrounding their ownership and investors. Even well-known teams like McLaren are shown struggling through the season with poor finishes and driver drama.
The drama between teammates and across teams is showcased incredibly well. It’s clear that some teammates thoroughly dislike each other, resulting in 2-car crashes involving the same team. You’ll find yourself rooting for drives like the young Esteban Ocon who is fighting for his seat at Force India. In fact you’ll learn that most drivers are young, with half of the current field under 25.
It’s an incredibly well put together docu-series, and it gave me the background and insight into the lesser known teams that I really needed. I have watched the past few races with great interest, and personally think that Vettel got robbed by that 5 second penalty at the Canadian Grand Prix. I also think it’s boring to see Hamilton and/or Mercedes win every week.
So who am I rooting for (and against)?
- Well, as a team – Ferrari. It goes back to being a kid and seeing those bright red race cars that still look the same now. I love the history, I love the Italian passion, so that’s who I’ve chosen. I enjoyed watching Leclerc achieve his goal of reaching a seat at Ferrari.
- My runner-up is Haas, I loved the in-depth look we got of the team during the Netflix series and can’t help but root for the American team!
- As for drivers, I still like Ricciardo, even though I came away from the series not liking Renault.
- I really disliked Verstappen at Red Bull as well, he just seemed cold and boring, and while I don’t root against him specifically, I don’t pull for him either.
Only warning for parents, there are a lot of F-bombs but I totally recommended it for my 15 year old who wants to get into it, but doesn’t know who to root for (his default was Hamilton…).