Every month, we round up the best new releases on Netflix. But, this March, we were worried. Would the best sporting docu-series, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, be returning? It was a rocky season last year; one with its fair share of flat tyres, crashes and collisions — both literal and metaphorical. Did producers manage to capture the mayhem — or were they run off the track by the global pandemic?
Thankfully, the former. The engines have roared back to life — and a third season of Drive To Survive is lining up on the Netflix release grid for an imminent release. Below, we take a look behind-the-scenes to see what each episode has in store…
The first episode will end on a Covid-cliffhanger
Titled ‘Cash Is King’ the first episode of the new season kicks off with an introduction to Lawrence Stroll, and will see the teams talking (optimistically) about their plans for the season. The new look for Racing Point is revealed, and the team’s rivalry with McLaren will be explored.
Then it’s off to sunny Melbourne, where the first race of the season will take place. Until, as we all remember, it doesn’t. The episode ends on a cliffhanger that wouldn’t be out of place in some of the streaming service’s more dramatic offerings — with the pandemic putting the whole season in jeopardy…
Lando Norris takes the focus in episode two
Next up, we get our first proper look at how the global spread of Covid-19 affected the racers and teams. Factories and headquarters are left empty, and interviews take place over Zoom. It’s very different episode for a very different world.
But, soon, news comes that the season will begin again in Austria. Christian Horner pops up with more optimism than the year should probably allow — and there’s a particularly welcome focus on plucky Lando Norris, on his journey to his first ever podium…
The third episode, ‘Nobody’s Fool’ follows Bottas
The third episode belongs to Valtteri Bottas — and looks to be a difficult watch. Branded as a second-rate driver and ‘Hamilton’s wingman’, it’s a deep psychological dive into perennially placing second — and the intense rivalries behind Mercedes lines…
Episode four ends with Sebastian Vettel signing for Aston Martin
It was a move that shook the motorsport world — and one that was perhaps even more dramatic than we presumed. This episode follows Ferrari, and takes a look at Sebastian Vettel’s joke-making, mick-taking and general bad behaviour as his car fails to make the cut.
The episode ends with Vettel revealing he’s signing with Aston Martin — and on the weekend on Ferrari’s 1,000th race. Ouch.
Pierre Gasly gets his time to shine
Let’s skip forwards to episode six — perhaps the most promising of the series. Pierre Gasly, who Gentleman’s Journal recently caught up with, begins the episode speaking commendably candidly about being demoted from Red Bull last year. But what follows is a rags-to-riches, zero-to-hero tale.
Told almost cinematically, watch as Gasly shines with AlphaTauri — all the while seeing Red Bull replacement Alex Albon struggling over at his old team. And it ends, as we know, with Gasly’s unexpected, unbelievable victory at Monza.
Watching Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr joke is a difficult watch
If you follow Formula 1 drivers on Instagram, you’ll probably get a decent feel for their friendships. But episode eight of Drive To Survive’s third season reframes the pally relationship of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr in a rather unsettling way.
Instead of the teasing and friendship we’re presented with on social media, the show makes Sainz Jr’s McLaren exit look more like a betrayal — positioning him as the villain next to Norris. Could it all be taken out of context? Perhaps. But this might be one to skip for those behind the Norris/Sainz Jr bromance.
The ‘Grosjean crash’ gets a special, super-sized episode
Perhaps the most exciting episode of the season, the ninth in this third run tackles Grosjean’s miraculous Bahrain crash. Longer than usual (it runs to 50 minutes), this is the centrepiece/climax of Drive To Survive’s latest season — and is engineered to be as emotional as possible.
It doesn’t focus as much on George Russell — who was having his own exciting experience during this time — but instead doubles down on Grosjean, even enlisting his wife for an interview. Tissues at the ready.
The last episode ends with Lewis Hamilton being very, very honest
If episode nine forces us to have the difficult conversation with Grosjean about the danger of Formula 1, episode ten ramps things up again by asking Lewis Hamilton about the inherent prejudice of the sport. Taking place at the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi, this is an episode that also gives a dramatic feel to the docu-series.
We’ve got Daniel Ricciardo’s final race with Renault. There’s a glimpse of Aston Martin taking to the grid for 2021. We’ve even got some closure on the McLaren drama that reared its high-octane head earlier in the season. But the best, most striking element of the episode is the long, honest interview with Hamilton that wraps things up.
Want more from Formula 1’s last season? Nicholas Latifi explains why it was an incredible year to make his debut…
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