Carlos Sainz ‘laughs’ at Drive to Survive F1 effect after Lando Norris ‘arch-enemy’ storyline

Oliver Harden
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz embrace following the Ferrari driver's victory at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix

Norris and Sainz were known as 'Carlando' after building a close relationship at McLaren across 2019/20

Carlos Sainz has accused Drive to Survive of creating “exaggerated” rivalries between drivers, revealing he laughed at one episode casting former McLaren team-mate Lando Norris as his “archenemy.”

Netflix’s highly acclaimed docuseries has been credited for introducing new fans to F1 since it launched in 2019, with the sport’s popularity going from strength to strength under the ownership of Liberty Media.

Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris laughed off Drive to Survive ‘archenemy’ episode

Additional reporting by Pablo Hidalgo

However, long-term F1 fans have increasingly voiced criticism of the show for concocting rivalries between competitors and exaggerating storylines in the name of entertainment.

Sainz and Norris established a productive partnership – and formed a tight bond off track – during their two seasons as McLaren team-mates in 2019/20, claiming three podium finishes between them.

Appearing on the Nude Project podcast, Sainz has revealed he was stunned by one Drive to Survive episode portraying him and Norris as “archenemies” at McLaren, with the pair “laughing” at the narrative.

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He said: “In F1 we get along well with each other among the drivers.

“Now maybe we are in a trend in all sports where there is more respect and sportsmanship than before in the time of [MotoGP legends Valentino] Rossi, [Jorge] Lorenzo, [Marc] Marquez, or in football with [Zinedine] Zidane and [Marco] Materazzi. There is more harmony.

“But thanks to Netflix, battles or characters have been created that don’t really exist in some cases.

“Netflix has been in charge of dramatising this and giving it a Hollywood touch. It’s true that the duels exist, but they’ve been exaggerated. It’s Hollywood.

“Lando Norris and I are colleagues. Rivals and colleagues. They did an episode in Season 4 where we looked like archenemies. We were team-mates and we seemed to get on terribly.

“In Australia at the start of the new F1 season we met and I said to him: ‘Have you watched Netflix?’

“He said yes and we were laughing about it for a while. Even a fan who has been following F1 for a long time and knows the details laughs at that episode.

“They take one line there, one line there, to try and create that rivalry.”

F1 owners Liberty announced in April that it had acquired MotoGP, the motorcycling equivalent of Formula 1, in a deal valued at £3.6billion, with the American company expected to raise the sport’s profile considerably.

Sainz believes the simplicity of MotoGP makes it a “more entertaining” spectacle than F1 and has backed Liberty to make a “huge success” of the sport in time.

He explained: “I think a MotoGP race, on average, is more entertaining than F1.

“The problem is that for F1 to entertain you, you have to understand the strategy and the pit stops, but for the new Netflix fan who has only recently got into the world of F1 and starts researching, they love it.

“And that’s what happened to my girlfriend who has nothing to do with F1: I explained everything to her and she said: ‘This is really cool.’

“Now, you give me a MotoGP race and an F1 race without understanding anything and I will tell you that MotoGP is more entertaining.

“It’s simpler, see who gets first to the finish line, they overtake each other more.

“But I wouldn’t criticise F1 for being less entertaining because once you have more insight into it, it’s very entertaining as well.

“I think the Netflix phenomenon has really helped F1 stand out from MotoGP. Liberty Media has opened everything up a lot, the YouTube world, etc.

“MotoGP is in that process and it takes time. F1 is just under 10 years into this change. MotoGP is going to be a huge success, it’s my second favourite sport after F1.”

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