Drive to Survive part of F1 ‘opening the doors’ to fans

Henry Valantine
Zak Brown McLaren PA, Netflix

Zak Brown McLaren PA

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes that “Netflix has been great for Formula 1”, with the success of Drive to Survive opening the sport up to a swathe of new fans around the world.

The three series of the show have given a never-before-seen look behind the circus that follows the sport around the world – with Brown believing that F1’s enclosed nature meant that fans’ interest in the show would be heightened even further.

The sport has been spreading further around the world in recent years, with a second race in America taking place in Miami from next year, alongside a controversial debut for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix later in 2021.

F1 owners Liberty Media have embraced new media where Bernie Ecclestone did not, with Liberty operating on the philosophy of making the sport as accessible to fans as possible by massively increasing its social media presence along with the Netflix show.

With F1 actively looking to expand into new markets, Brown believes the reach of Drive to Survive was best exemplified when he bumped into US television presenter and former NFL player Michael Strahan.

“He came up to me in a New York restaurant. A very polite guy who likes McLaren. And the first thing he said to me was, ‘I saw you on Netflix!’ So I think that [it has] made a difference, especially in the US.” Brown said, per Motorsport Total.

“The exciting thing about Formula One is that it’s closed off. You couldn’t look inside.

“People have wanted to see what’s going on in the Formula One paddock for years. But they were not allowed to. But now we have opened our doors and many are amazed.

“It’s given Liberty the opportunity to grow the sport very quickly and do things like Netflix.”

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The show did receive criticism for certain aspects of what was portrayed on camera, such as a faux tension between Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris after the Spaniard confirmed he was leaving for Ferrari – as well as the takeover of Williams not making the cut at all.

Brown was not bothered by how his team was presented in the latest series however, saying previously: “Any time you get into a television show, they’re going to create some entertainment that we all within the paddock know, maybe it wasn’t quite like that.

“But I think that’s okay, and I think what’s most important is it has done some wonderful things to bring in new fans around the world. So we’re very supportive of Netflix and what they’re trying to accomplish, even if they take a little bit of creative licence here and there.

“I think it was number one in 25 countries. So I think the primary goal of Netflix is to entertain and bring new viewers to F1. And I think it’s accomplished that tenfold, which is great.”

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