Updated: Jan 27
Written by Umut Yelbaşı, edited by Harshi Vashee
I don’t remember when exactly I first came across Porsche’s “Road to Le Mans” series on their YouTube channel, but I think it was when they released their second episode back in 2019. I was just starting to get into Formula 1 and motorsport, and by sheer luck (or by online tracking, which is more likely), YouTube decided I should be one of the first people to watch Michael Fassbender’s Le Mans journey. Yes, Magneto is a racing driver now.
Before I get into the actual content, I want to touch on the production quality. I’m a creative person – meaning I’ve shot and edited a lot of videos. I know how much work and effort goes into even an amateur video, so the fact that Porsche were willing to share such a beautifully shot and edited series on YouTube for free really impressed me. The shots were amazing, the editing was spectacular, and the music couldn’t have been more suitable. The episodes of the first season were shorter than the later seasons, and I really couldn’t get enough of them. This was such an issue that the comments section forced Porsche to increase the duration of the videos and a twenty-minute video in the third season is almost considered short.
The content is raw, it’s clear that nothing is scripted and nothing is over-glorified. Michael Fassbender is an actor and as much as he was interested in cars and had a pretty good lap record on Top Gear, he isn’t a racing driver. Through the first couple seasons we see him fail horribly, often to the expense of decent results for the Proton Competition team he’s a part of. He’s paired with two great drivers, Felipe Laser and Richard Lietz, who are incredibly supportive of Fassbender even though they sometimes have trouble hiding their disappointment in the car and their rookie teammate. When it was first announced that Fassbender was joining the team, Lietz said “Porsche offers vehicles ranging from the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport to the 911 RSR to customers who want to make their dreams come true. Michael Fassbender dreams of Le Mans. It’s exciting to be part of this and I aim to help him a bit in his quest by offering my contribution.” Both Lietz and Laser help him tremendously and their relationship is very well documented. They aren’t treating him as just a random car enthusiast, no, they are training him to become a professional racing driver. It’s clear that they don’t hold back and it’s great to see Michael Fassbender try his hardest. He does not give up under any condition, and he knows exactly where to improve. He’s patient, unlike the YouTube comments section. I remember seeing comments like “Michael isn’t a racing driver, just give up already,” and I must admit I sometimes found myself agreeing with them.
As the seasons progressed, Michael started to develop quickly. He was constantly the fastest Bronze driver on track. He is classified as a Bronze driver, which is a term for debuting drivers or for those who have not yet achieved significant results.
The team has been extremely unlucky. They’ve lost podiums due to safety cars, crashes out of their control, and drivers, not just Michael but all of them, made small errors which left them out of contention. When the third season came, however, they were stronger than they had ever been. Michael was much more consistent, he could fight with other cars instead of just maintaining position and surviving until the driver change, and he no longer relied on Leitz and Laser to carry the team. They still weren’t highly competitive, but it has been a great experience watching their battles with their main rivals, Iron Lynx. The third season just ended on the 3rd of December, and it’s confirmed that they will finally race at Le Mans next season.
I feel like I’ve become attached to this series more than I get attached to regular TV shows and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’ve learnt a lot about Le Mans, what goes on in the background, and how challenging motorsport is. I highly recommend you give this series a chance if you haven’t.