Netflix’s wildly popular Formula 1 docuseries Drive to Survive will release its fourth season this Friday, ahead of the first race of the F1 season on March 20th.
The show has been credited for helping boost American interest in the sport, and while it’s tough to make any kind of direct link, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest it has absolutely played a big role. ESPN averaged nearly a million viewers per race for the 2021 campaign, a sharp increase from 2020 and 2019.
Obviously the thrilling title race between Lewis Hamilton and eventual champion Max Verstappen was another key factor, but Drive to Survive has laid down the blueprint for leagues and sports in terms of trading access for buzz and exposure. The fourth season will likely do the same, and the 2021 season certainly handed Netflix plenty of narrative to work with.
We’re only days away from release, but Netflix released the first full-length trailer dropped today:
The obvious draw is the season-long battle between Hamilton and Verstappen, which culminated in a thrilling last-lap championship-deciding move. But the real joy of the series is the many ways it adds shades to the variety of characters that populate the Formula 1 paddock. Watching Red Bull team principle Christian Horner ride a horse can be just as entertaining as seeing Max and Lewis going wheel-to-wheel in 4K slow-mo.
The show has detractors, as anything does. They point to artificially inflated moments of tension brought about by editing. (Max Verstappen declined to participate in 2022, citing similar complaints.) And while, sure, there are times Drive to Survive takes a more dramatic license, this isn’t a science documentary, or an exposé on government corruption. It’s an entertainment product, plain and simple, and it captures enough authenticity behind-the-scenes to bring everyone involved to life in a convincing way.
Through three years it’s been pretty much bulletproof sports-themed television, and it’s hard to imagine season four turning out differently.
[image via Netflix]