Drive to Survive producer Paul Martin claims that if there was no Daniel Ricciardo, then there would probably be no Drive to Survive.
The hit Netflix docuseries has proven to be extremely valuable for Formula 1, arguably the main catalyst behind the series’ rapid popularity growth in the United States.
And as series five gets set to hit our screens, there is an element of sadness as this could be the last which features Ricciardo, maybe temporarily or perhaps for good, as he was dropped by McLaren at the end of the 2022 season.
Ricciardo has created a reputation for himself as one of Formula 1’s brightest characters, and the driving force, pardon the pun, behind Drive to Survive it would seem.
Martin, co-founder of DTS producer Box To Box Films, said it was an emotional hit to lose Ricciardo from the grid.
“Without Daniel I think there probably wouldn’t have been a Drive to Survive,” he told the New York Post. “He was the first driver that we talked to about it, the first driver that invited us to his home in Australia. I felt very emotional with him leaving.”
There is still hope that we could see Ricciardo on Drive to Survive beyond season five, as he has signed a deal to return to Red Bull as their reserve driver, a role which will see him attend some races on the F1 2023 calendar.
And this year away from the F1 grind is designed to give Ricciardo the breathing space to refocus and decide if he wishes to pursue a return to the grid. If he does, then he may well make the soap-opera style comeback which Martin referred to.
“It is a soap opera: characters get killed off, they come back, new characters come on,” Martin commented. “I’m a big fan of the old ’80s soap operas so it feels a bit like Bobby Ewing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Daniel pop up in the shower at some point this year!”
But, as it stands, Drive to Survive is going to need a different driver to step up and be the life of the party so to speak.
And fortunately, Martin already has someone in mind for who can fill this Ricciardo-shaped void.
“For me, [Pierre] Gasly has always been in that role as well,” he said. “The show’s been on this amazing journey with Pierre and I feel quite emotionally attached to him.
“We’ve seen him go through some incredible lows: the season where he was demoted [from Red Bull Racing] and Anthoine [Hubert] died. So to see him finally get a chance again in a competitive car [Alpine] is going to be great.
“He’s grown on screen as a driver and as a person, so I think he’ll be someone who will really fill the gap that Daniel leaves.”
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Drive to Survive season five will be available on Netflix from February 24.