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How ‘Drive to Survive’ Has Impacted Formula 1

Written by Jess Hayden, Edited by Mara Simion

‘Drive to Survive’ is a documentary series centred on Formula 1, aired on Netflix. Hence, throughout the race season there is a team following around the F1 group. ‘DTS’ (‘Drive to Survive’) has been following F1 around for the last five race seasons. This sport documentary takes on more of the behind the scenes politics of the sport, making it one of the most controversial TV shows, as it dramatises all the events that happen.

When Formula 1 started, it was majorly a European based sport, with most races in European countries. Within the last few years, some American races have been introduced due to the rapid increase in American viewership of Formula 1, as a result of ‘Drive to Survive’ being a hit in the US. DTS also increased the amount of young people that watched the sport. Christian Horner, team principal of RedBull Racing, said “Drive to Survive has been attracting a lot of younger women because of the good-looking drivers”. This gave a large negative effect on how people treated female fans of Formula 1, as they watch the sport for a multitude of reasons. Hence, assuming a person watches it purely because of their gender is a misogynistic ideology.

Credit: Getty Images

Despite ranking in the thousands of new viewers, ‘Drive to Survive’ is still considered to be sensationalising Formula 1 since it has been accused of exaggerating drama and only focusing on certain drivers and teams. It has caused problems for multiple drivers by creating rivalries that were never there in the first place. The show has also been accused of painting certain drivers like Max Verstappen as ‘villains’, resulting in Verstappen refusing to do interviews for the show. The TV program also took some heat when a research showed that across all five seasons women had spoken for less than an hour out of 32 hours of episodes, as well as only six women being named on screen. This highlights a glaring oversight, especially considering the growing prominence of women in motorsport.

Disregarding the negative backlash the show has been given, it does allow fans to view the sport from an entirely different perspective. It has also helped newer fans who haven't followed the sport before understand how the sport works, as well as why Formula 1 is considered the pinnacle of motorsport. Many younger people have been inspired to take up careers in Formula 1 after seeing the politics and personalities of the sport in the show, this increases the exclusivity of getting a career within this area of motosport.

Image Credit: Getty Images

To sum up, ‘Drive to Survive’ has largely enriched Formula 1's landscape. While it isn't devoid of controversy, its contributions to expanding viewership and educating new fans cannot be overlooked.


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