F1 bosses, team principals, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly comment on F1: Drive to Survive season three, and how they were all portrayed.

The Netflix series has been accused of dramatisation to push an image of the sport unrepresentative of the real product, and many of F1’s more committed fans criticise the ten-part show for this reason. Others argue that dramatisation of the sport with the aim of growing the series is both reasonable and effective.

McLaren racing CEO Zak Brown aligns with the latter camp – despite the portrayal of his team as one plagued by infighting among drivers in the 2020 F1 season, when in fact the team seemed to have one of the more cordial pairings of the year. The American argues that exaggerations are part of good television, and says McLaren are ‘supportive’ of Netflix’s show.

“[Look at] Top Gun,” Brown started to media including FormulaRapida.net. “You watch it, and I’m sure every fighter pilot went, ‘you can’t do that in a jet,’ but it was a great movie. So, of course, all of us living in the sport know that Carlos and Lando had a great relationship, and there wasn’t the kind of a tension portrayed there.

“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 license here and there. I think Netflix has been great for F1. It’s been trending number one. 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,” summed up Brown.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner admits to ‘constantly’ wincing at Netflix’s depiction of F1 and his team, but concedes that the upsides associated with the series are ‘very positive’, and acknowledges the show’s ‘enormous’ popularity. The Brit also shares that his daughter, 14, and her friends went from having no interest in the sport, to knowing drivers by name.

“It is a TV show but it is also showing a side of the sport that is not normally conveyed during a conventional weekend broadcast,” said Horner. “It shows some of the characteristics and some of the personalities, which is presented in a certain way to engage the audience, but overall it is very positive for F1 and the popularity seems enormous.

This series is covering the 2020 season, which had so many challenges and you think ‘how did we do all of that in such a short space of time?’. It is a very positive thing for F1 and brings in a whole new audience to the sport. My 14-year-old daughter and her friends didn’t have much interest in F1 before the Netflix series, and now they know who all the drivers are.

“As I said, with DTS, what you have to remember unlike live broadcasts it’s more of a TV show rather than an in-depth look at the sport. It reaches a completely different and new audience. The way it’s cut, the way it’s edited, it’s slightly different. But it’s engaged the market. Off the back of it, we’ve brought in exciting new sponsors and partners, one of which is Oracle. I think it’s a positive thing for F1, it’s a new audience that it brings to the sport,” summed up Horner.

Haas’ Guenther Steiner, not often portrayed in a positive light by the show’s producers, suggests fans accept that filmmakers will exploit their creative license, and likely produce a “sensationalised” product – but the Italian says this is acceptable so long as the show is accurate “in principle”.

“We know filmmakers, they get the best they can out of it, that’s pretty clear,” said Steiner to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I don’t know how much was played up and therefore I’m not with those who are critical about it. I don’t know how they managed the stuff. That’s why I don’t have much of an opinion about it.

“It’s well known that film people always try to get the best possible out of it, so that the viewers enjoy watching it. We have to, and can live with that. As long as stories told there are not completely wrong. I didn’t hear that, actually, that it’s untrue. Maybe sensationalized a little bit, but otherwise I don’t think much is changed in principle, at least that’s how I understand it,” Steiner said.

AlphaTauri’s Gasly, to whom a whole episode was dedicated, says that being able to relive his F1 Italian GP race win through the show helped motivate him heading into 2021. “I feel like really pumped up after watching it and I’m really excited to get the 2021 season going,” he said. “They say Netflix always bring you bad vibes. I guess the vision has been changed now.”

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