Formula 1: Drive to Survive, the Netflix Original Series gives viewers a behind the scenes look at all the action, drama and teams that make up Formula 1. Season 2, released February 28th, 2020, follows the 2019 racing season featuring twenty-one races on tracks all over the world from March 15th to December 1st. A total of ten teams with two drivers per team competed in the 2019 championship; Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault, Haas, McLaren, Racing Point, Alfa Romeo, Toro Rosso, and Williams.
The series focuses more on major events of specific teams and drivers rather than race by race standing and outcomes. There are flashbacks and jumps from races quite far apart and if it weren’t for the brief mention of the who the winner was in the last few minutes of the final episode, those that don’t follow F1 may have had no idea. Teams Alfa Romeo and Racing Point weren’t even featured in the series and viewers may only catch glimpses of them during the racing footage.
One team that we didn’t see too much of outside of their episode, “Episode 9: Blood, Sweat & Tears”, was Williams. The episode showed their rough start and issues with chief technical officer Paddy Lowe after they failed to make it on time for the Barcelona test run because their car was not ready. The episode also showcased Claire Williams stepping her into her role as deputy team principal for the Williams team and new driver George Russell. Williams didn’t seem to be able to get it together at all in the season, finishing 10th as a team with only one of their drivers (Kubica) scoring a single point. For the 2020 season George Russel will continue on with Williams alongside the only new driver on the entire grid, Nicholas Latifi.
On the opposite end of the standings, Mercedes was not only featured in their own episode, “Episode 4: Dark Days”, but screen time was spread throughout the series. The episode and other scenes focused on the death of Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda and his contribution to the Mercedes team. Although there were a few bumps in the road, including a collision with Red Bull driver Alexander Albon during the Brazilian Grand Prix that earned him a penalty, Lewis Hamilton was able to bring home his sixth Formula 1 World Championship and fifth championship with the Mercedes team. Mercedes will keep both 2019 drivers Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, who didn’t get nearly as much screen time, for the 2020 season
The second most anticipated team for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons is probably Red Bull. “Episode 5: Great Expectations” highlighted all the drama between drivers Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon. Episode 6: Raging Bulls also focused on Albon and his quick jump to F1, as well as some family history that came into the spotlight as he became a more recognized driver. Albon, who started the 2019 season racing for the ‘junior’ Red Bull team, Toro Rosso, was switched to Red Bull mid season after Pierre Gasly failed to perform along teammate Max Verstappen. Gasly raced for Toro Rosso the previous year however the stress of performing for one of the best teams alongside one of the best drivers was too much and race after race he failed to keep up with Verstappen. Red Bull finished 3rd in team standings with Verstappen 3rd in drivers and Albon in 8th. Gasly was not too happy with the switch and after being returned to Toro Rosso he went on to get his first podium win and earn 7th in the drivers standings. Red Bull will have both Verstappen and Albon driving for the 2020 season and Toro Rosso (set to be renamed AlphaTauri) with Gasly and Danill Kivyat returning for his fifth season with the team.
One of the most entertaining teams to watch in the series is Haas. Guenther Steiner, team principal, is curt and to the point. After Haas team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen collided with each other at the British Grand Prix causing both cars to retire for the race it wasn’t hard to see why Steiner was so frustrated and he even briefly mentioned sacking both drivers. With the strange situation going on with sponsor Rich Energy, Haas’ 2019 season didn’t get any better. Haas finished 9th in the team standings, their drivers finishing 16th and 18th. Both Grosjean and Magnussen will continue with the american team for the 2020 season.
Unlike Haas and Williams, Ferrari had a good season. “Episode 7: Seeing Red” focused on the Italian team first at the US Grand Prix where the team had multiple issues including engine failure during a practice for driver Charles Leclerc. Leclerc went on to win the Italian Grand Prix while teammate Sebastian Vettel had suspension issues during the home race. Vettel went on to win the following Grand Prix in Singapore and the Ferrari team finished in 2nd at the end of the season. Both drivers, Leclerc and Vettel, will return for the 2020 season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive with Ferrari.
Of all the drivers included in Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 2, Daniel Ricciardo seemed to have the most screen time. ‘Episode 1: Lights Out’ returned to the end of season one when Ricciardo surprisingly announced he’d be leaving Red Bull to drive for Renault. Ricciardo was mentioned again in “Episode 3: Dogfight” where it highlighted the battle between Ricciardo and previous Renault now McLaren driver, Carlos Sainz. The other driver for Renault, Nico Hülkenberg struggled all season long and failed to win a podium position and at the end of the season his contract was over with Renault and no team picked him up for the 2020 season. Renault finished 5th in team standings and replaced Hülkenberg with Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon who will team up alongside Ricciardo for Reanult’s 2020 season.
Besides the brief mention of Carlos Sainz and how he was lucky to be picked up by McLaren after being replaced on Renault by Ricciardo and his on track battles with his replacement the McLaren drivers and team didn’t see much more screen time. Mclaren finished 4th in the team standings, their drivers in 6th and 11th. Sainz and teammate Lando Norris will continue with McLaren for the 2020 season.
Racing Point and Alfa Romeo were not featured in the series however, Racing Point finished 7th and Alfa Romeo finished 8th. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll will be driving for Racing Point in 2020. Alfa Romeo’s drivers for 2020 are 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi.
The 2020 F1 season already has a few loops in store, as the Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first in history to not allow live spectators to the race due to the coronavirus. Perhaps a bit more impactful to the season and it’s teams is the introduction of the cost cap now put on teams that they can spend in a calendar year to compete in the Formula 1 World Championship. This means that teams with less funding will have a better chance at the higher funded teams and make the grid much more competitive. We won’t be able to tell how much this will come into play in the 2020 season until we can see the changes but if you want to catch the first race and see for yourself it airs live Sunday March 15th at 1:10 am eastern.