Fast cars, big names, huge egos and tons of drama. What else do you want from a sports television show? Drive to Survive (DTS) has became a huge success the last four years because of those factors and the newest season certainly didn’t disappoint.
Drive to Survive is a Netflix show connected with the Formula One season. The show in its first three seasons had become a huge success and had massively contributed to the growth of the sport. Each season of the show covers the behind the scenes of the pervious F1 calendar year.
A few of the main themes I found when exploring the show were; appearance versus reality, redemption/perseverance & good vs evil. These three themes played a pivotal role in the production of the show and are a big reason why this season was a joy to watch.
Appearance versus reality
One of the biggest themes on the show is how much of the content shown in DTS represents what actually went on during that Formula One season. Well, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Each episode focuses on one team and therefore the viewer can sometimes get confused as to the broader F1 context. For example certain races that were pivotal to the eventual outcome of the championship found little to no mention throughout the season. Also, the show tends to focus on an individual drama point even if it wasn’t a big deal during the actual year. The show does do a good job of showing off the real personalities of the drivers and letting them express themselves to the audience off the track. DTS is able to represent the real financial conditions that some of the teams faced during the 2021 season and showed a lot of the behind the scenes struggles that certain teams went through.
This year’s season was all about redemption and perseverance for one particular driver: Max Verstappen. The series goes all in to show the low points during the season for the Dutch driver, before showing his late rise in the year and eventual victory on the final lap of the last race, which won him his first ever drivers championship. DTS has some clever foreshadowing during the earlier episodes depicting the eventual redemption arc of Verstappen. This was particularly impressive that the producers were able to show Max’s perseverance to the title without the Dutchman participating in the show, as he chose not to take part, which meant no behind the scenes access and exclusive interviews. Lewis Hamilton’s role in Verstappen’s redemption can’t be understated as he carried the villain role in order to make Max’s win seem all the more grand.
Good Vs Evil
Talking about villains, DTS likes to pit drivers and team principals against each other even when the rivalries don’t really exist. The show does run into a bit of trouble with being factually accurate, sometimes weaving around the truth in order to make the storyline more dramatic. They love to make the good vs evil plot in order to draw attention to a certain rivalry during an important part of the season.
One particular point was when DTS plotted the Hass team engineer against the Haas driver; Nikita Mazepin. DTS knows that Mazepin had received a lot of negative press since he came to the team because of his fathers influence in getting him a seat. So at the first point where there was friction between the engineer and Mazepin DTS made sure to make it look like a team vs driver/father scenario. Also, DTS consistently put Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner against each other, asking questions in the behind the scenes interviews in order to get certain responses that would heighten the rivalry more than either team would have liked.
This season of DTS certainly had its high moments as well as its poor execution of fabricated drama. The show does a decent job at representing what actually went on during the previous calendar year but sometimes the lack of chronological order during a race episode can be confusing for fans who didn’t watch the season as it was playing out.
DTS was given a gem this year with the fact that the 2021 season was story booked with an incredible comeback script and an exhilarating ending. But credit still has to be given that they did a great job from episode one to build the narrative of Max Verstappen incredible perseverance on route to his first championship.
Whether you are a Formula One fanatic or a first timer watcher, DTS Season 4 is another fun iteration of the show even with the over the top contrived drama laced in. This season didn’t reach the heights of the previous years but that doesn’t mean season four isn’t worth watching. If you enjoyed the previous three seasons this will still be an enjoyable watch, as long as you don’t expect anything different in Season 4.