‘Drive to Survive’ Fires Formula 1 on Netflix


“Drive to Survive” Netflix’s series about Formula 1 offers a candid look at a notoriously secret sport and attracts the American fans they’ve sought to attract for years, to the delight of its executives.

“I think that has to be the most important impact for Formula 1 in North America.” zak brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. “Almost every comment you get from someone outside the US refers to ‘Ride to Survive’.

“People go from ‘I’ve never watched a Formula 1 race in my life’ to ‘I will never miss a Formula 1 race again’.”

The show kicked off in 2019 with a 10-episode season filmed in the previous year’s championship on Netflix. The third season aired in March and the shooting of the fourth season continues.

It wasn’t easy to get the series off the ground. Gaining the trust of the teams, who are sensitive about car designs, data and operations, was difficult at first for Box to Box Films, the producers of the series.

In fact, two of the dominant teams, Mercedes and Ferrari, refused to be part of season one.

“Drive to Survive” executive producer Paul Martin said, “I think the teams were saying, ‘You don’t know what this world is!’ There was a sense of that,” he said. “I don’t think we do, and I think they’re skeptical of whether we can really do what we say.

“We wanted to provide an authentic depiction of what it was really like to operate, live and work in this paddock.”

Formula 1 has worked with the teams on the access they will allow, ensuring their secrets are protected.

“We’ve given the teams the security they need,” said Formula 1 media rights director Ian Holmes. “They want so much more. But it gave Netflix the confidence to capture real behind-the-scenes content they’ve never seen before, not just a breathtaking piece that will resonate with fans.”

Eight of the 10 Formula 1 teams have agreed to be part of the first season, with the exception of Ferrari and Mercedes. “They had more to lose,” said Holmes. “I think if one did or not, the other would have done the same. They’re very focused on the championship.”

Missing the two most famous and successful teams did not prevent the first season from being successful. Fans learned about the inner workings of the sport, personalities, politics, and juvenile.

By the time filming for the second season began, Ferrari and Mercedes had changed their minds.

Explaining why the team was involved in 2019 from season two, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said, “It showed me a new angle to attract a new audience, different from how I perceive F1.” “That’s why I decided to join Netflix and be a part of it in 2019.”

The teams quickly learned to be comfortable around cameras, making it realistic. Even when Formula 1 enforced strict Covid-19 protocols last season, the teams included camera crews in their balloons so they could continue filming, as a sign of trust between them.

“They understand the environment and integrate well,” Wolff said. “Obviously, you know they’re around. But no one is trying to act like a Hollywood actor.”

Three seasons have captured many of Formula 1’s greatest moments, including the drivers being fired mid-season and their emotional first wins. One of the most dramatic episodes of season three was Romain Grosjean’s escape from a fiery accident that left him stuck in the burning wreckage of his car for 27 seconds.

But much of the success of “Drive to Survive” came from showcasing the personalities and lives of the drivers off the track.

“Everybody sees it on Sunday, we have helmets, we race and that’s it,” he said. Daniel Ricciardo The Australian is one of the most visible names on the show. “But it shows the ins and outs of sport, what we’ve accomplished on the weekends off. By diving into more of our daily lives, anyone can relate to it.

“For a long time, it’s been a very special sport. I think the show has been really good for us to let a few more people in and show them how great the sport is.”

Netflix keeps its viewership numbers, but FlixPatrolCollecting data on movies and TV shows, “Drive to Survive” became the #1 hit for TV series worldwide shortly after the third season aired in March. It also brought in more viewers than the first season, something Holmes said was “unheard of”.

“Netflix has told me 99 times out of 100 that the second series never really gave the same audience as the first show, and it goes on and on,” Holmes said. “The third series did more than the first series. The rate of completion and the speed at which the completion rate has also increased”, which shows that people love the series.

The first season had a huge impact on Formula 1 audiences in the United States. Race-day ticket sales for the first United States Grand Prix since the release of “Drive to Survive” in 2019 were up 15 percent compared to 2018. The organizer of the race, Bobby Epstein, said it was because of the show and is gearing up for an additional 20,000 fans for the race in October. in Austin, Texas.

“We haven’t had a race in two years and I think the popularity of the show has grown with that,” Epstein said. “Only now do we really see it. We can definitely attribute this growth to the Netflix series that gives people access to behind-the-scenes personalities. It’s definitely eye-opening to see that there are people who stand out here.”

The television audience for Formula 1 in the United States has jumped since the release of “Drive to Survive”. ESPN said the average viewership per race has increased from about 547,000 in 2018 to about 928,000 so far in 2021.

“There’s no way to measure whether a Netflix show is contributing to viewership increases, but it certainly didn’t hurt,” said John Suchenski, ESPN’s director of programming and acquisitions.

“Having additional Formula 1 content that reaches a wide and diverse audience helps raise awareness and interest and hopefully encourages them to adapt to racing.” “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

The rise in popularity in the United States comes at an important time for Formula 1. A second Grand Prix in the United States will be added in Miami in 2022 as the sport seeks to expand further across the country.

Americans do not have a large presence in sports, with only one team, haas Kannapolis, NC and no drivers.

“It’s such a fascinating sport, with its politics and personality,” said Brown of McLaren Racing. I think ‘Drive to Survive’ has accomplished that and exposed it to the world and it seems like it really resonated in the US.”

The riders also noticed the growing US fan base. “I started getting a lot more messages and promises, especially from America,” said Pierre Gasly from France. “In the US, the show’s release every year has had a huge impact. There are more Americans following me now.”

“From an American fan point of view, there’s a lot more to them than that,” said Lando Norris of England, who has driven for McLaren. “The people I met got into motorsport and just watched ‘Drive to Survive’ and became fans of Formula 1, not just me.”

Producer Martin was blown away by the effect. But he attributes the success of the show to Formula 1’s qualities as a sport.

“People’s reactions are incredible,” he said. “Our show just works because, actually, sports is an incredible show. Incredibly dramatic and tense. There are bugs and there are big characters. Our show just shines a light on what is out there.”


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