The best of Netflix’s Drive to Survive Season Three

Date published: March 21 2021 - Finley Crebolder

Sebastian Vettel PA

As is always the case with the Netflix show, the third season of Drive to Survive provides some fascinating insights and top-notch entertainment. 

The filmmakers were spoilt for choice when it came to content for season three of the fly-on-the-wall documentary following the roller-coaster that was the 2020 campaign.

As expected, there were a number of memorable moments and having binge-watched it, we have picked out our 10 favourite bits.

The false start (Episode 1)

2020 Australian Grand Prix

The season begins in a time before COVID-19 took a firm grip on the world and provides an up-close look at people slowly realising the magnitude of the situation as the virus begins to spread.

At the start of the first episode, Daniel Ricciardo is casually making jokes about coronavirus. By the end of it, it has hit the paddock and postponed the start of the season. Seeing that process unfold behind the scenes really is quite something.

The tension gradually amps up in Albert Park as rumours begin to spread of some team members testing positive, and witnessing how everything played out and how the people of F1 reacted is genuinely fascinating.

The Bull who cried Wolff (Episode 2)

Sadly, on track, there was not too much for Netflix to sink their teeth into when it came to a title fight given Mercedes’ dominance. They did, however, give us a look at the rivalry between the German team and Red Bull away from it.

Specifically, episode two followed Christian Horner as he and his team discovered DAS, Mercedes’ controversial innovation, and decided to protest it. We even got to see the exact moment the Red Bull team principal informed Toto Wolff he would be doing so as they headed into a press conference.

The episode provided a glimpse of the intense rivalry, as well as the clear respect, between the two. It may not be as explosive as the clashes we have previously seen between Horner and Cyril Abiteboul but it is every bit as intriguing.

Bad boy Bottas (Episode 3)

We see a lot of Valtteri Bottas – quite literally – in the third instalment of the season as he tells us just what it is like being team-mates with the sport’s superstar.

From afar, we are so used to him being the obedient number two driver at Mercedes, and he shares how doing so almost made him retire in 2018. Given that, there is something immensely satisfying about seeing him do the opposite and put himself ahead of the team.

He does so in Sochi, giving Max Verstappen a tow in qualifying to ensure a grid position of P3 instead of P2 to get a better run at Hamilton at the start of the race. The cameras capture the fury and disbelief of Wolff and the team, while Bottas’ wry responses when asked if he gave the Dutchman a helping hand on purpose are brilliant.

Seb vs the Scuderia (Episode 4)

You did not have to be a detective to figure out it was not happy families at Ferrari last year between the team and Sebastian Vettel, and episode four shows just how bad things were.

Things get started with the German making a joke ahead of the Italian Grand Prix and getting told off for it, ordered not to be so smiley given the Scuderia’s struggles. As much as they try though, they struggle to control him as he continues to joke around and says he can do what he wants as he is leaving at the end of the year.

Things so nearly boil over in a press briefing ahead of Ferrari’s 1,000th race as, following the announcement the previous night that Vettel was to join Aston Martin, the team are clearly very unhappy with their driver. As the two parties try their best to be friendly, Charles Leclerc watches on as an awkward, but slightly amused, spectator.

When Danny dumped Cyril (Episode 5)

Break-ups are never easy, but poor old Cyril Abiteboul took his with Daniel Ricciardo particularly hard after the Australian decided to leave Renault for McLaren.

The Frenchman made his feelings clear in the statement released following the announcement and doubled down on them when talking to Netflix with some strong words. But beneath that anger, there appeared to be pain in his eyes. The cameras expertly captured a moment at the season-opener in Austria where D-Ric greeted his boss and was all but ignored.

Like all good rom-coms though, the story had something of a happy ending as the Frenchman sincerely thanked the Aussie following his P4 finish at Silverstone, healing some wounds. Heartwarming stuff.

The Pink Mercedes (Episode 5)

Lawrence Stroll

The highlight of the fifth episode though was something far more serious than Ricciardo and Abiteboul’s squabble as the grid went to war over the Pink Mercedes.

We see staff at Renault and McLaren visibly furious about it, and Zak Brown strolling around the paddock voicing his feelings to other team bosses, stirring the pot as much as possible. Ultimately, Renault launch a protest and infuriate a man whom Netflix portray as the Bond villain of the sport.

As Lawrence Stroll marches into shot, sunglasses on, hands in pockets and boss-music playing, it is hard not to get chills. That becomes the case even more so as we see behind-the-scenes footage of him losing his sh*t at those daring to oppose him in an official video statement. Played over shots of the people in question, it really feels like the beginning of a war.

The Great Gasly (Episode 6)

Given season two of Drive to Survive revealed just how badly Christian Horner and Helmut Marko treated Pierre Gasly in 2019, we could not wait to see the episode focusing on his stunning victory in Monza – and it was as good as we hoped, making us feel sheer joy on his behalf all over again.

It was made all the sweeter by the fact that, throughout the episode, we see Horner harshly dismiss any suggestions that the Frenchman deserves a second chance at Red Bull, much to the anger of the Frenchman.

Our favourite moment comes when, after he has crossed the line to win, the jubilant AlphaTauri team members run down the pit-lane past the Red Bull boss who, while applauding, seems far from happy.

Silly season with Steiner (Episode 7)

Silly season in 2020 was quite simply crazy, but sadly we do not get much of an insight into the negotiations that take place. There is, however, one exception, as the show follows Guenther Steiner as he tries to sort out his driver line-up for 2021.

The Italian is as entertaining as ever as we see him wrestle with the decision to sack his two long-term drivers, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, try to secure a deal with Mick Schumacher and German sponsors and keep his boss, Gene Haas, happy.

After watching the episode, all we wanted is a spin-off focusing solely on the team principals of the sport.

The Grosjeans (Episode 9)

Romain Grosjean wife PA

Personally, we were not massive fans of the way in which Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain was covered by Drive to Survive as it was made to seem as if he was sat in the fire for a good five minutes, just to add a bit of drama. What we did love, though, is the fact Netflix got he and his wife, Marion, in front of the camera together.

Seeing the two of them hold hands as they discuss his crash is really touching, and we could not wipe the smile off our face as she rolled her eyes while he made himself sound as heroic as possible.

The accident has been covered so much we were not sure if the show could provide anything new, but they ultimately gave us an intimate insight into the couple and how they handled the event. It was lovely.

Perez prevails (Episode 9)

In the same episode, we also see the events of the Sakhir Grand Prix and while it was disappointing that George Russell’s time in a Mercedes was not covered, it was great to relive Sergio Perez’s maiden victory.

The show does a good job of reminding us of just how much he needed a good result after being dropped by Racing Point and looking set to be without a seat for 2021. That makes it all the more satisfying to watch him win.

After the podium celebrations, a lovely moment between he and some of his team is captured, when he tells them they have a friend for life and that they will have a place to stay if they ever visit Mexico. These interactions, which we never get to see on TV, are exactly what makes Drive to Survive so great. Bring on season four.

Finley Crebolder

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