Season 4 should out-wow the previous three editions thanks to the intense rivalry of the 2021 Title between the long-reigning King of F1, Lewis Hamilton and the pretender to the throne, Max Verstappen. That the latter won, on a night packed with controversy, will only feed the Netflix script writers with gems.
Previous release dates:
Drive to Survive Season 1: 8th March 2019, the F1 season began on 17 March;
Drive to Survive Season 2: 28th February 2020, season supposed to start 15 March when COVID delayed it until 5th July;
Drive to Survive Season 3: 19th March 2021, the F1 season began 28 March.
United States-based ESPN report that the 2021 F1 season averaged 931,000 viewers through the first 14 races, which is 53% higher than the 2020 season average and 40% higher than the first 14 comparable races in 2019.
“There is not a way to quantify if the Netflix series has contributed to the audience increases, but it’s all positive,” John Suchenski, director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN stated.
“Having additional F1 content out there that reaches a wide and different audience helps increase awareness and interest, and hopefully incentivizes them to tune into the races. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Apart from the epic battle, resolved so contentiously in the final minutes of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, there are many standout moments that are sure to make riveting viewing.
Between the contenders, expect Monza and Silverstone to get extra special attention, Vesratppen’s early-season brilliance, Hamilton’s late-season charge. Plenty there to script.
Beyond the Max vs Lewis show, other subplots are sure to feature, among them:
Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari awakening and the pressure on Charles Leclerc;
The return of Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin to F1 with Sebastian Vettel leading the project;
Daniel Ricciardo returned McLaren to winning ways with Monza one-two. Lando Norris sure to feature;
Valtteri Bottas’ and George Russell’s Imola crash and the latter’s promotion to Mercedes;
Esteban Ocon’s shock win in Hungary after Bottas skittled the field in Turn 1;
Fernando Alonso’s comeback with Alpine and the famous Hamilton duel in Hungary;
Sergio Perez coming good for Red Bull with Baku victory;
Kimi Raikkonen’s final race after two decades in F1;
Toto Wolff versus Christian Horner;
And of course, foul mouther Guenther Steiner’s reactions to crash-bills his rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin incurred will be priceless!
Martin adds that Bratches was a part of the Liberty Media Company takeover of F1 in 2016. One of the biggest criticisms the previous owner, Bernie Ecclestone, faced was his struggle to evolve in the digital landscape.
Martin explained: “Bratches, however, had the dream to land Formula 1 on a streaming platform and eventually struck a deal with Netflix. Box to Box Films, which made the show, was tasked with creating ‘something that was very different from the live coverage that existed of the sport’.
Verstappen refused to be part of “fake” account of the F1 and life in the paddock
“Having spent some time at a couple of races before we started the show, we felt that there was a whole part of the sport that was happening behind the scenes— in the paddock and in the hospitalities and in the preseason and in the gaps between the races. People didn’t really know about, or if they did, they didn’t really understand.
“If you’re really into Formula 1, you sort of knew who they were. But above and beyond hardcore [fans], nobody knew who they were and why they were so powerful and why they were trying to do what they were doing,” added Martin.
On the downside, Verstappen pulled out of Season 4 personal co-operation with the series, citing fake rivalries and a twisted narrative he did not agree with, but at the same time understands the impact the Netflix series has had on the sport, particularly in the United States where the addition of Miami to the calendar this year makes it two races in the USA along with Austin.