Man, I’m missing the F1 right now. So with no F1 until next year why not look back at Netflix’s hit docuseries: Formula One Drive to Survive? Now while I’ll be the first to say it’s not for everyone it is a phenomenal look into the structure and behind the scenes running of F1 teams. Oh and it features one of the most hilariously bad dubbed interviews ever which I may touch on later…. So without further ado let’s get into some history about the show before I get into the list properly.
Formula One Drive to Survive first debuted on Netflix in 2019 and is currently in its 5th season with the possibility of a 6th still on the horizon. Now as mentioned before the show follows various Formula One teams across the racing season as they try and deal with the challenges and races throughout the season. Besides there’s also great looks at some of the most popular F1 drivers like Sir Lewis Hamilton and his perennial rivalry with Max Verstappen. Also the light that Drive to Survive shines on smaller teams is great as often many newer F1 fans aren’t particularly aware of like Haas or AlphaTauri. And yes also that horrifically dubbed George Russell interview. So without any further ado here are the best F1 Drive to Survive episodes.
10: Crossing the Line (S1, E10)
Kicking off the list of the best Drive to Survive episodes is the Series 1 finale: Crossing the Line. What makes this episode so good? Well it focuses on everyone’s favourite team: Red Bull. So with Daniel Ricciardo having his last race for the team you’d think Red Bull would be nice and calm at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Well tell that to Max Verstappen who gets into an incident with Esteban Ocon. Other highlights include McLaren signing Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris and Red Bull, Haas and Renault discussing how they are going to challenge the top teams.
9: Nobody’s Fool (S3, E3)
Ahh yes how could I not talk about everyone’s favourite mad Finnish driver: Valtteri Bottas? This episode does a great job of showing how often second drivers like Bottas aren’t really recognised as much as the lead drivers. Case in point with Bottas determined to get out of Hamilton’s shadow he takes his opportunity at the Russian Grand Prix. When you watch this episode you realise just how much planning Valtteri probably did behind Mercedes’s back because it borders on Bond villain at times. However the show really does make you sympathetic for Bottas as he’s often shown to let his teammate past to benefit his title charge. Anyway, you really can’t hate Bottas in all honesty.
8: Back on Track (S3, E2)
Now this episode of Drive to Survive is set just after F1 returned post COVID. Now this sees Red Bull and Mercedes going at each other for Mercedes’s new dual axis steering with Hamilton demoted to 5th on the grid. This episode focuses a lot more on Red Bull driver, Alex Albon, as he aims to build on a strong prior season. However, just as it looks like Albon is on his way to getting a podium, a collision with Hamilton sees him crash out. Heartbreakingly, Albon then sees McLaren driver Lando Norris claim the podium as he is left to wonder what could have been. Another very solid, emotionally driven episode.
7: Gloves are Off (S4, E9)
Now this penultimate episode of Drive to Survive Series 2 really racks up the tension amongst teams and drivers alike. Hence the title but anyway I digress. With the title race really heating up drivers are desperate for any sort of advantage to push them to the line. Naturally this episode follows Mercedes with the most winning man in the history of the sport, Lewis Hamilton, seeking yet another title and win. So a fairly solid episode if not anything too spectacular.
6: Dark Days (S2, E4)
By this episode, Mercedes have dominated F1 for the past 5 years and are seeking 6 titles on the bounce. However tragedy strikes when Niki Lauda, a former driver who was instrumental to their rise, passes away. So when time comes to the German Grand Prix, Hamilton first suffers a flu. Then his front wing breaks…. Then he’s given a penalty so yeah not a great day at the office for Lewis Hamilton. And it’s not like Valtteri Bottas fares much better either so maybe the title of the episode was apt….
5: The Art of War (S1, E4)
No matter what this episode’s title may suggest, it isn’t about Sun Tzu’s book. It’s instead about the soap opera drama within Red Bull. When Christian Horner changes engine supply to Honda, this annoys both Renault’s president and Daniel Ricciardo. While Renault’s president pushes back publicly against the criticism Ricciardo decides to leave Red Bull because of worrying that Honda is still unproven. So where does he decide to go? Renault. Now that is a near Game of Thrones level betrayal which if you watch the episode many of Red Bull’s members begin to isolate Ricciardo because of it….
4: Redemption (S1, E3)
Who’s getting redemption in this Drive to Survive episode? Well it’s everyone’s favourite Aussie Driver Daniel Ricciardo. So with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen forced to start in last place at the Monaco Grand Prix, Ricciardo starts on pole and finds himself leading the early stages. However, legendary driver Sebastian Vettel nearly denies him the win but Ricciardo manages to withstand the pressure to take the victory. Also there is yet more sad news for Williams as they tunnel further down the grid…..
3: Raging Bulls (S2, E6)
Firstly besides all the Red Bull Game of Thrones esque drama this episode is dedicated to Anthoine Hubert who tragically lost his life mid Formula 2 race so a very classy gesture by the show runners there. So with Pierre Gasly dumped back to development and Alex Albon promoted Red Bull are clearly making moves to sort out their driver lineup for the next season. So with all this Red Bull talk what’s Max Verstappen up to? Well he ends up colliding with F1 Legend Kimi Raikkonen and forces them both to retire. Meanwhile Red Bull look to have been proven right when Albon finishes 5th with Gasly claiming 9th…..
2: Hard Racing (S4, E10)
Narrowly missing out on the top spot in the best Drive to Survive episodes is the Series 4 finale: Hard Racing. Now what makes this episode so good? Well it finally seems like Red Bull have a chance at a generational battle with Mercedes as Max Verstappen battles Lewis Hamilton for the title. And believe me when I say the last 15 minutes of this episode will have you on the edge of your seat even if you’ve barely watched that much F1 before. Such a good episode….
1: Man on Fire (S3, E9)
And the best Drive to Survive episode is….. Man on Fire. Now this episode shows the dangers of F1 as the title is scarily accurate. What happens is during the Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean’s Haas car crashes and sets on fire. Luckily he gets out alive with only second degree burns… Now onto slightly light subjects this episode sees Alex Albon more or less dumped by Red Bull thanks to a man who looks like he’s going to be dumped by Red Bull: Sergio Perez. I mean if the casual F1 fan was in any doubt, Red Bull Principal Christian Horner literally called him at the end to congratulate him. I mean poor Alex Albon but it definitely works out for Red Bull so.. Anyway this is a near perfect episode with high stakes and betrayal that really engages the viewer.
What are your favourite Drive to Survive episodes? Let me know in the comments below!