Paul Martin: Mercedes and Ferrari no show on Netflix let F1 down

The intriguing battle for the 2019 Formula 1 crown between Mercedes and Ferrari was enthralling stuff, packed with action and subplots between the title contenders, but the soon to be released Netflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” was forced to focus on the sideshow instead of the main show.

The 10-part behind-the-scenes documentary description trumpets: “As a new generation of drivers steps out of the shadows, Formula 1 has opened its doors to give unprecedented access to the top drivers, team principals and owners, to set the scene for a new wave of gripping competition and challenges.”

However Mercedes and Ferrari did not buy into the concept.

In an interview about the series that airs on 8 March, executive producer Paul Martin told BBC, “Mercedes and Ferrari wanted to operate under different terms to the rest of the teams, and us, as producers, and Netflix as the broadcasting platform, didn’t feel comfortable with that.”

“It was going to be all-or-nothing and if those terms were good enough for the eight other teams, it should have been good enough for Mercedes and Ferrari, too. My view is that they did a slight disservice to the fans and the sport by not taking part.”

“We were lucky enough that teams such as Red Bull, Renault, Haas, and the others gave us fabulous access and bared their souls,” added Martin.

Reacting to the criticism, a Mercedes F1 spokesperson said: “We were delighted to see that last season’s compelling, year-long battle for the championship between Ferrari and Mercedes helped drive 10% growth in unique viewership for F1 worldwide and made the sport the fastest growing in the world on social media.

“Competing for the world championship is an all-consuming business that demands every ounce of focus from the entire team; we are driven first and foremost by performance in every decision we make.”

Ferrari did respond when asked for comment.

The PA report adds, “The absence of Lewis Hamilton, F1’s biggest star, and the sport’s top two teams, is a major blow to F1’s owners Liberty Media who dreamt up the documentary series in order to crack the United States. Indeed, the sport’s commercial chief Sean Bratches is listed as an executive producer.”

Drive to Survive series of 2018 season to air on Netflix in March