F1 team bosses star: A Drive to Survive season six review

Formula One 2024 Grid
Photo Credits: Formula One (via X)
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The long awaited sixth installation of Drive to Survive aired on February 23, 2024 on Netflix. Following the format from previous seasons, it has ten episodes spanning the 2023 Formula One season.

Often criticised for overtly dramatising everything, one has to sympathise with the gargantuous task they had on their hands with the 2023 season: the unforeseen level of dominance Red Bull and Max Verstappen had on track, how do they make season worth watching? We also need to take into account that 2023’s summer break silly season did not exactly happen, either.

This can be felt in the division of episodes: out of the ten available spots, two were solely focused on the return of Daniel Ricciardo to the sport and the situation at AlphaTauri (now, RB F1) seat; two were dedicated to the Alpine duo and the midseason administrative change; two dived into the situation at Ferrari and the battle for P2 in the Constructors’.

It only leaves four episodes for the rest of the contenders, which on one hand isn’t much screen time, but then perhaps there just wasn’t enough footage to fill up the run time.

Alongside Will Buxton, this season brought back Claire Williams (Ex-Team Principal, Williams F1 Racing). They were joined by Danica Patrick (Former Racing Driver) for their insights.

This season, just as the previous one, was focused on a handful of races. We are taken back to the same locations, over and over. It does not cover the entire season as thoroughly. As much as we are aware that this show does not peddle to fans who regularly engage with the sport, the decision to only focus on a limited number of race weekends stands almost as an antithesis to Formula One’s ever expanding calendar. 

The third episode pans its lens to the McLaren headquarters. MCL60 is lacking performance, to put it mildly — and they know it. The beginning of the season was brutal for the Woking-based team, which naturally lead to questions about their line-up: whether Lando Norris would stay, what does Oscar Piastri think about his dismal start to the debut season? Norris is known for his loyalty to McLaren, and it was a refreshing episode to see that he was not afraid of thinking about walking away.

The only non-Red Bull win of the 2023 season was a team effort, with Charles Leclerc jumping George Russell at the start and then backing the pack up to help build a gap in the first stint for his teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr. The show portrays it as such. Given their history of creating animosity between teammates — they could have used Singapore 2023 as grounds for a conflict, but they did not, which staggered my expectations.

For the most part, drivers this season have almost been handed a secondary role, the protagonists really and truly have been the team principals: James Vowles and Fred Vasseur’s at Williams Racing and Scuderia Ferrari respectively. A narrative arc of Otmar Szafnauer trying to manage the drivers at Alpine, and being replaced by Bruno Famin. They also follow Peter Bayer, CEO of the previously named AlphaTauri, as he manages the three drivers, two seats conundrum at the team. And the fan favourite, of course, Guenther Steiner.

Interestingly, the show also provides glimpses into the decision of Red Bull to keep Liam Lawson on the bench at RB F1. But for a team who no longer wants to label itself as the sister entourage, Drive to Survive has flooded too many shots of Red Bull’s pitwall looking on and over their performance.

The creators of the show managed this season, somehow. However, one cannot help and empathise with them. The timeline of one of the biggest announcements in Formula One history, with Lewis Hamilton deciding to join Scuderia Ferrari in 2025, being stacked against them. They could not cover it. 

Regardless, we will wait for the next season to see their interpretation!