Despite show’s success, drivers struggle to live with F1’s Drive to Survive

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Photo credit: McLaren Racing

The significant increase in popularity of Formula 1 in the United States–which will see its third race of the season this coming weekend in Las Vegas–has been largely tied to the smash success of Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive series. But the show has been controversial from the outset, putting a reality-television spin on the series that has drawn criticism from across the paddock over the years.

In the post-race press conference at São Paulo, all three drivers on the podium–Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, McLaren’s Lando Norris, and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso all considered the show to be a distraction.

Both Alonso and Norris admitted they don’t watch the show at all, with Norris remarking that “the thing is, when you know everything that goes on, it’s nice when they make you look good but then sometimes they also make you look bad. And it’s like the real truth at the end of the day. It’s still a show, it’s to entertain people.

“It’s not there to provide maybe the most honest things about everything.”

Alonso sees it as little more than a distraction: “I’m very focused on the racing and not on this show. We know it’s important for the sport but I think drivers, teams, even for you guys in the media it’s a very long season, a lot of travelling and we just go for racing, this is what we love but the outside package is sometimes a little bit too much but we understand it.”

Verstappen, who has refused to participate for much of the series run, kept his remarks brief, stating that “I drive to have fun. Probably I’m a bit more old school in that. I wish social media never existed.

Norris conceded that perhaps the show is a necessary evil: “It’s a business, Formula 1, it’s an entertainment. As much as I don’t do it for entertainment, if it didn’t get televised and all of those things wouldn’t really matter. I just want to do the driving, and that’s why I’m here.”