What to watch to fill the F1 void in your life

Date published: March 26 2020 - Finley Crebolder

Formula 1 is on hiatus, and we don’t know when it will be back. In the meantime, there’s plenty of material you can watch to fill the void. 

Whether a film or documentary, fiction or non-fiction, classic or modern, there’s sure to be something that takes your fancy. Sure, it may not be the same as live racing, but beggars can’t be choosers…

Grand Prix (1966)

Grand Prix focuses on four F1 drivers as they compete in a fictional 1966 season. The story, which focuses heavily on their personal lives and relationships, isn’t great, but the on-track action more than makes up for it.

It features real-life racing footage, some filmed from the cars in actual F1 races, and the camera work was so acclaimed that the film won three Academy Awards. If that’s not enough, the film also features race tracks including Spa and Monaco, and cameos from Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Juan Manuel Fangio.

Le Mans (1971)

If realistic on-track footage is what you’re looking for, this film is even better. Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, is all about a fictional 24-hour race at the famous circuit.

Shooting was done on-site and lasted six months; in that time, the real 24 hours of Le Mans took place. The production company took full advantage of this by entering their own car into the race and attaching cameras to it.

Not only did this result in some stunning footage, but the car even finished in P9, second in its class. Sadly it was disqualified for not completing the required distance due to stops made to change the film reels. Given how the movie turned out, we’d say it was worth it.

Senna (2010)

Perhaps the most well known and acclaimed film on this list. Making a documentary worthy of the late, great Ayrton Senna seemed a near-impossible task, but the 2010 masterpiece managed it and then some.

It focuses on the Brazilian’s career in F1, from his debut in 1984 to his death 10 years later and, unlike most documentaries which feature a sombre voiceover and retrospective interviews with relevant figures, is made up almost solely of race footage and home videos from the family.

Not only does the film serve as a fitting tribute to the Senna, but it also provides an in-depth insight into his life and mind never seen before.

Grand Prix: The Killer Years (2011)

Certainly not a fun watch, but a great one nonetheless. This BBC documentary is all about the darker, dangerous side of the sport, and serves as a stark reminder of the risks that drivers take every time they put their helmet on.

Focusing on the crashes and deaths of the 60s and 70s in particular, it features some truly harrowing footage and heartbreaking interviews with the friends and colleagues of those that lost their lives, including Sir Jackie Stewart and John Surtees.

Rush (2013)

Niki Lauda and James Hunt’s somewhat mixed relationship is one of the most interesting dynamics in the sport’s history, and Rush, a biographical film centring around their title fight in 1976, depicts it excellently.

Thanks to near-perfect casting, thrilling race footage and some heartwarming scenes, it’s rightfully considered one of the best racing films around. Sure, it’s historically inaccurate at times, but we really don’t care, and we reckon, once you’re watching it, you won’t either.

Williams (2017)

Sir Frank Williams is known and loved throughout Formula 1, and in 2017, we finally got a worthy documentary telling the story of his journey from a mechanic to the head of a major team.

Not only do we get to see this journey, but we also get an insight into the dynamics of one of the sport’s most famous families, with Claire Williams being incredibly open and honest about the relationship between her, her brother and her father.

Ford v Ferrari  (2019)

Known as Le Mans ’66 in some parts of Europe and Ford v Ferrari everywhere else, this drama, following Ford’s quest to build a race car to beat Ferrari, is an excellent racing film regardless of what you want to call it.

The highlight of the film is undoubtedly the portrayal of the friendship between Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, while the 24-hour race itself is as gripping as anything you’ve seen on screens. The ending will leave you seething and sombre in equal measure, but it’s worth it for the ride to get there.

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