Drive to Survive has bucked the trend of most shows by enjoying a steady increase in viewership instead of slowing from season to season. Season three, filmed during COVID’s hit 2020 season, enjoyed larger viewership than season one and season two, while that benchmark has since been surpassed by season four which released earlier this year. .
It’s no surprise that Netflix renewed Drive to Survive for not just season five, but also season six, ensuring the show will stay on the streaming service until at least 2024.
Debate over the show’s use of creative license has intensified over the past two seasons, particularly after world champion Max Verstappen cited it as the reason he refuses to participate in direct filming. . His absence from the most recent season was notable, given the attention given to his fight with Lewis Hamilton for the world championship.
And yet, the absence of big names is part of the reason Drive to Survive has been such a hit.
Back in the first season, filmed until 2018, Ferrari and Mercedes refused to participate in the show due to uncertainty about the distraction it could pose and the risk of letting cameras enter the operation. internal to a team.
Without the two biggest hitters at their disposal, producers were forced to look elsewhere to tap into storylines, which led to a focus on the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Gunther Steiner, arguably the two stars of the whole world. Drive to Survive arc to date. Ferrari and Mercedes would reverse their decision from season two, but thankfully that hasn’t reduced the focus on those further down the grid.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, is interviewed
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Drive to Survive showrunner Cassie Bennitt spoke about the importance of tapping into these great figures at the Business of F1 Forum hosted by the Financial Times and Motorsport Network in Monaco.
“What I find so great about the Formula 1 paddock is that it’s a place of intrigue, it’s where deals are made, dreams are made, dreams are killed,” said Bennitt.
“It lends itself to storytelling, and with that comes these amazing characters. Going back to the first season, we didn’t have access to Ferrari and we didn’t have access to Mercedes. They did not want to participate, it is well known.
“So that meant the original team had to look elsewhere. And I think that fundamentally helped shape the show. You had to look at other teams. Haas is a classic example of that. Gunther Steiner, his fanbase is absolutely amazing. I think even my boyfriend is obsessed with Gunther!
Steiner was always baffled by his own resulting popularity from Drive to Survive, and still didn’t watch a single second of the show. At the fan forum in Australia earlier this year, it was noted that the cheers for him were even greater than for some world champion drivers who appeared on stage, testifying to the power of Drive to Survive in creating these new stars.
“We had to shine a light on everything that was going on in the paddock,” Bennitt said. “There are 20 drivers, there are 10 teams. There’s so much going on in each of them, and each one is different, and it changes from year to year.
“What we try to do is find out what the story is going to be, what the arc of the season is. You never know early on in this season. And then we try to get to know the characters and tell their stories.
“It goes back to universal themes of what you relate to as a human being. That’s really the kind of methodology. It’s people at heart, and there’s also racing. This is what we will try to do.
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1
Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
The focus on personalities is something that Drive to Survive doesn’t want to lose from its formula in the future, knowing how powerful it has been in capturing such a large audience beyond the traditional fan base of the F1.
But much of the show’s content will naturally depend on the on-track spectacle, which Bennitt said was already shaping up well in early 2022 thanks to the Red Bull title fight against Ferrari.
“It’s a new dawn, it’s the new cars,” Bennitt said. “Who would have thought that Mercedes and Lewis would be in this position? Who knows what the stories are going to be for us this season?
“I already think everyone is really excited about what’s going to happen. Look at last year, we didn’t necessarily think we were going to go far enough in Monaco, and it turned out to be quite interesting.
“There are so many possibilities in the paddock and in the teams. I’d like to think that as long as we continue to do our job properly and stay true to the stories that come out of Formula 1, then we’ll be good.
“We work hard. We don’t want to sit on our laurels, that’s for sure. I would still like to work on seasons seven and eight!