IA year ago, the paddock cringed. And wondered: was the formidable media window opened by Netflix to promote Formula 1 going to turn against the pilots? In question, the treatment of discipline by the American giant too scripted, too fictionalized, exacerbating tensions. In “retaliation”, Max Verstappen has decided to boycott season 4 of Drive to Survive, currently streaming on the platform. The first episode continues this momentum with a lot of dramatic music and rowdy statements. “Business as usual”, announces a journalist in the preamble, as yet another Mercedes domination is announced. But in the meantime, Formula 1 has had one of its most tense seasons in its history.
The Verstappen/Hamilton duel – stormy, acrimonious, dramatic, therefore legendary – exceeded all expectations and made F1 one of the most thrilling series of the year. How can the temple of fiction do better than reality? The bet is partly successful thanks in particular to a five-star cast and strong personalities. The confrontation between Christian Horner, boss of Red Bull, and Toto Wolff, his counterpart at Mercedes, is the guideline of these ten episodes. The bonhomie and humor of Horner against the rigor and coldness of Wolff. Married to an ex-Spice Girl, Horner opens the family doors and shows his obsession: to prevent Mercedes from sleeping. “You have to stress them out,” he explains. Surreal scene: her children blow on a dandelion while making a wish. Reproach of the father: “You did not wish that Max (Verstappen, editor’s note) would be champion? “No, dad, that’s your dream.” »
The documentary gives pride of place to this battle with three intense moments: Verstappen’s spectacular accident at Silverstone, the clash between the two drivers at Monza and of course the final Grand Prix and its exceptional outcome (Verstappen overtaking Hamilton in the final lap clinching his first railroad title).
Glories and disappointments
What makes the flavor of Drive to Survive, it is also the treatment of the small stables: the galley of the Haas, the emotion of George Russel when he scores his first points for Williams, the duels of team-mates, the doubts of Ricciardo or the return to (semi) grace of Ferrari. It is by dealing with the peloton and the hassle of second knives that the Netflix documentary takes on an additional dimension and depth. The glories and disappointments of those who fight to save their place are fascinating and prove, if necessary, that these athletes risk their lives (social and physical) at every turn.
Grand Prix de France: “Formula 1 is a Canal + series”
Despite extreme dramatization, damaging ellipses and annoying tautologies (“if you have the best car and the best driver, you can win”: thank you Toto!), this season 4 remains a good loss leader for F1 novices and for specialists, an excellent trailer for the first Grand Prix, on March 20.
“Drive to Survive”, season 4, available on Netflix