What moments could we likely see in the new Drive to Survive season?
Written by Caitlyn Gordon, Edited by Simran Kanthi
It’s now getting closer to the first lights out of 2023 and that can only mean one thing, the new anticipated season of ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ will be soon returning to our screens with the behind-the-scenes we have all been waiting for. With less than a few days until the Netflix premiere of season 5, many are starting to wonder what moments from the 2022 season will we get to see unfold from behind the scenes? Let’s have a look at some of the top 5 moments that could appear in the new season.
5. Alpine falsely announcing Oscar Piastri
Starting the list with the scandalous departure of Fernando Alonso which ultimately led to a chaotic legal battle between Alpine and McLaren. On 1 August, Alonso was announced as the new driver for Aston Martin in 2023. Alpine team boss, Otmar Szafnauer had no knowledge Alonso was thinking of leaving and only found out about this departure from the press release Aston Martin did. This now meant there was an available seat at Alpine and the young talented Australian Oscar Piastri was now first in line to get this seat. Piastri had been in the Renault and Alpine Driver Academy for three years and after winning the F2 season, he graduated from the academy and was then announced as the reserve driver for Alpine in 2022.
After the shocking exit of Alonso, Alpine quickly put out an announcement on 2 August stating Piastri was ‘promoted’ as the new driver for 2023. When this was announced many fans raised their eyebrows about this sudden announcement as only hours earlier Szafnauer said there is ‘no agreement’ in place for Piastri and even more so the time Alpine announced this was at a rather unusual time, as in Australia it was 2 AM. Piastri himself also had not announced on his social media to say he was the new Alpine driver but even more strange was that Piastri had not given any quotes to suggest he would be signing for Alpine. For hours there was no tweet or post from Piastri regarding his new seat in F1 which made suspicions grow even more. However, six hours later Piastri finally made a statement, but not the statement anyone was thinking of. Piastri stated how he had not agreed to a contract with Alpine and how they ‘announced‘ it without his agreement. Piastri then said that he would not be racing with Alpine in 2023. This caused a spectacle in the Formula 1 world as questions started to rise on who would take the free Alpine seat and what would be happening to Piastri.
After a month of waiting, fans finally found out what was going on as on 2 September, McLaren announced Piastri as their new second driver and that they were dropping Daniel Ricciardo even though he still had a year left on his contract. Before Piastri was announced as the new McLaren driver, behind the scenes a legal battle was taking place between Alpine and Piastri. Szafnauer stated in the media how he was going to ‘sue’ Piastri over this ordeal and how Alpine was going to get compensation for the millions they spent on Piastri's career. Alpine believed they had the rights to Piastri, and he was contracted to race for them in 2023. However, the Contract Regulations Board (CRB) ruled that McLaren had the rights to Piastri who signed a contract with them back in July 2022. The verdict came out on 2 September and after all the information was presented to the CRB they collectively agreed in favour of McLaren. This meant after a month of drama the situation was finally over and Piastri could now be announced as the McLaren driver. Alpine had to pay £230,000 to McLaren and £120,000 to Piastri for the ordeal.
4. Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement
28 July was a hard day for the Formula One world as four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement from the sport. Although his retirement was impending, no one thought it would be happening so soon. Vettel undeniably changed the sport after he became the youngest-ever world champion and then went on to dominate for the next three years in Red Bull. But it was not just his driving skills people admired him for, it was also because he spoke his mind about pressing issues in the world. Vettel campaigned against climate change and racism and even stayed behind after races to clean up fans' litter. The new season will definitely touch on the mark Vettel has left on the sport and he could possibly have a full episode to himself, with Netflix following him around for his final few races to give the behind-the-scenes on how he, his team, and the rest of the grid were dealing with his departure.
3. The Red Bull budget cap
It was announced by the FIA on 10 October 2022 that two Formula 1 teams breached the cost cap regulations put in place for the 2021 season. The cost cap was first put in place in 2019 to level out the playing field between the top and the midfield teams. For the past decade, the top teams have been spending up to $400 million on their cars a season whereas smaller teams like Haas and Williams had a significantly lesser budget. The cost cap came into force in the 2021 season and the maximum amount to spend was $145 million. The FIA set out many different penalties for teams who did not comply with this and went over the limit, some of those penalties included a fine, reduction in wind tunnel time and future cost cap limit, and deduction of Constructors' and Drivers’ Championship points. The cost cap document was released in October 2022 and most of the teams complied but it was found that Aston Martin had ‘procedural breaches’ - which had to do with the financial report – and that Red Bull went over the spending by less than 5% which is around $7.25m.
When this was released to the sporting world, fans and rival teams were angered by the overspending. It was reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown wrote a letter to the FIA and said ‘cheating should be punished with heavy fines’. Lewis Hamilton also had his say on the situation stating how overspending is significant to the performance of the car. He also said if Mercedes overspent by about $300,000, it could have gotten him the world championship in 2021. It was speculated at first that the Red Bull penalty would be a deduction in points which would ultimately change the outcome of the 2021 season. This was huge news and the sporting world waited anxiously to find out what their penalty would be.
However, it was revealed their breach was considered ‘minor’ and their punishment would be a $7m fine and a restricted wind tunnel time for the 2023 season. Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies said how their punishment was ‘very insignificant’.
Christian Horner said how their overspending did not affect the way their car performed and the reason they went over the budget was due to catering costs – they had spent $1.2m in this area - and staff gardening leave and sick pay which was a further $800,000. It was a very dramatic few weeks in the motorsport world and it will hopefully be touched upon more in the new season of Drive to Survive.
2. The Sao Paulo Grand Prix
The Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend was full of surprises and the event that kickstarted it was Haas and Kevin Magnussen getting their first-ever pole. With heavy rain threatening the qualifying session, the team suggested Magnussen come to the pits and wait for the weather to start clearing up but Magnussen insisted on staying out to set a time. It worked out perfectly for Magnussen as eight other cars had retired and George Russell went off the track and caused the session to be red-flagged. This meant after 139 race appearances, Magnussen now has his first-ever pole and also gave Haas their first-ever pole. The celebrations from the team were heartwarming to see and it kicked the weekend off in a nice way. Happiness was short-lived for Haas however, as on the first lap of the Grand Prix, Ricciardo crashed into Magnussen ending both their races.
As the Grand Prix continued, George Russell battled brilliantly against Max Verstappen for many laps before finally overtaking him and going on to win his first-ever race. Lewis Hamilton came second giving Mercedes their first 1-2 of the season. However, it wasn’t an easy race for Hamilton as earlier on he had a collision with Verstappen. Hamilton and Verstappen were once again battling it out on the field and this caused them to touch cars and made them both fall down the grid. This collision possibly cost Hamilton the win and it hindered Verstappen’s race as he received a 5-second penalty and finished 6th overall.
Verstappen colliding with Hamilton wasn’t the only issue he encountered in the Grand Prix; the other issue started unfolding on the final few laps when Verstappen was hunting down Fernando Alonso in hopes of finishing 5th. However, it looked like he wasn’t going to be able to do it, so his engineer instructed Verstappen to let his teammate Sergio Perez through so he could get the crucial points he needed to finish second in the championship. Verstappen shockingly refused to do this and disobeyed the orders and kept trying to hunt Alonso down. A few more radio messages were sent to Verstappen asking him to let Perez through, but he did not back down and when Verstappen crossed the finish line 6th, he said, “I told you guys last summer, you guys do not ask that of me again. Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.” The Sao Paulo Grand Prix should definitely have its own episode to really get into the depth of not only the drama that happened with the Red Bull teammates but also show the behind-the-scenes of the heartwarming maiden pole and win for Haas and Mercedes, respectively.
1. Ferrari’s downfall
After a promising start to the season in Bahrain, Ferrari celebrated their first 1-2 finish since 2019. Charles Leclerc by the third race had a 46-point lead over Verstappen and it looked like Leclerc could have a real chance at winning the championship. But two races later, Verstappen overtook Leclerc in the standings and then later went on to win his second world championship. Leclerc could not get close to Verstappen as he had many issues throughout the remainder of the season ranging from technical to strategic faults.
The big one was at Monaco, - Leclerc’s home race – he qualified on pole position and looked like he was going to win in his hometown for the first time ever. However, Ferrari accidentally called Leclerc into the pit lane at the same time as his teammate, the team was yelling at Leclerc to ignore orders and not come into the pits, but it was too late and he was already in the pits waiting for new tyres, however, they were not ready for him. Viewers could hear just how angry and upset Leclerc was from his radio message. When Leclerc finally got out of the pits after waiting four seconds longer than his teammate, he would come out behind Verstappen in fourth place. Sadly, Leclerc stayed in fourth and it was also not the end of the bad team calls Ferrari gave to Leclerc throughout the season.
Many other issues and events happened throughout the 2022 season that have not been mentioned in this article but will most likely appear in the show. Storylines of Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher losing their seats and the Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso rivalry that was happening on track. This new season is something to look forward to as there was just too much that happened that viewers will finally get to see unfold behind the scenes.