Netflix "Drive to Survive"

Mercedes opted out of Netflix F1 series because Ferrari did

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has explained why the team did not participate in the recent Netflix Formula 1 series, “Drive to Survive”.

While most teams granted Netflix permission to film behind the scenes for to document, Mercedes did not. Wolff said he made the decision because their main championship rivals Ferrari had done the same.

“We had some good reasons not to join last year,” said Wolff during the Australian Grand Prix weekend. “The main reason was that I felt that it was a big distraction and could potentially be a distraction especially also because our main competitor was not doing it.”

Mercedes decision not to take part means Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas feature little in the 10-episode series. Wolff believes the presence of Netflix’s crew would have distracted Mercedes during the championship fight, which Hamilton won.

“There is a different environment when you are within your inner circle in the team and you need to protect it, and [then] you have a microphone swinging over your head and a camera pointed at you.

“The media work already, as much as it makes Formula 1 and we must be grateful, has become a very big part of the race weekends. And I felt that doing more of it would harm us in our performance and this is why I decided that it was not for us.”

Netflix "Drive to Survive"
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Mercedes will discuss to what extent they will participate in the second series of “Drive to Survive” which will follow the 2019 F1 season.

“I’m open-minded. I watched the first three episodes on my way over, liked some of the things in there. Certainly the production’s great, it’s on a very high level.

“It shines a completely different light on Formula 1. The narrative is interesting, it creates stories that are not the obvious ones, it’s not about Ferrari against Mercedes. The sport is maybe not the primary narrative but interesting other stories. I get feedback from people that are not normally so interested in Formula 1, they said it’s great.”

Wolff said the team will “stick our heads together” and “evaluate whether we want to do this or not”.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Mercedes opted out of Netflix F1 series because Ferrari did”

  1. Thank you to Ferrari and Mercedes.

    The series was probably a lot better without them. Now we saw the inside story of the other teams. Those stories are often missed (just check how often the big teams command all the attention on this site).

    1. +1 refreshing

      1. +1 The series was all the better without them

    2. I agree, @coldfly. I binge-watched the 10 episodes last weekend before the race and thoroughly enjoyed it. I even cried again when Alonso retired! After watching the series, I am now a big fan of Guenther Steiner and also Kevin “Suck My Balls” Magnussen.

    3. @coldfly +1 Though a bit of Ferrari and Mercedes in series 2 would be good.

    4. @coldfly Indeed. The coverage is already dominated with those two teams, and the series showed there are interesting stories down the grid that just don’t get the attention they should. Inadvertently, they did us a big favor by declining.

    5. +1
      It was a very interesting insight into the lives of the other teams. I’m sure that having seen how succesful it was, Merc and Ferrari will want in but it will be the worse for it – after all most GP weekends focus heavily on those two teams already.

    6. @coldfly Don’t agree. The series clearly focused each if the episodes on a major storyline (drama) per team. Clearly there weren’t enough story lines available to create 10 good episodes. They could have used Ferrari and Mercedes to fill two of those less interesting episodes with something more interesting.

      I would have like to see how Vettel coped with his continued on track failures. Which apparently reportedly drove him to visit to he Red Bull camp more often.

      Or how Bottas dealt with being blown away by Hamilton again and again when the car became faster, but then also more difficult to handle. Did the team even consider helping him out or was their focus purely on Hamilton.

  2. To a fan there was little to see other that the fiction that you hadn’t seen already, and it wouldn’t have been balanced to have Mercedes without Ferrari

    I’m hoping season 2 sticks to the truth more, goes a little more in depth and has the big two

  3. The Hamilton vs. Vettel story wouldn’t have been interesting, so I’m glad they were not in the series. Now that they may both be facing competition form their own teammate it could get interesting though.

  4. Keith made a good point that Lewis as a very popular driver and Ferrari as the most popular team would have brought on more viewers, which is definitely a good point, and is likely to be a factor when Liberty try and get Mercedes and Ferrari onboard for this year.

    Heck, I’d think that one tweet from Hamilton about S2 of the show would increase viewership dramatically.

    That said, I share the underlying sentiment that it would be very nice to give all the other teams a fair amount of coverage (or even more).

  5. Midfield battles are officially interesting to me. Was it me or did the broadcast spend more time in midfield on Sunday? I found myself considering the front 4 as perhaps the afterthought for the first time in 20 years.

  6. Gilson Oliveira
    19th March 2019, 16:26

    As for me, not having Ferrari on the series it’s a big disappointment.

  7. Mercedes will discuss to what extent they will participate in the second series of “Drive to Survive” which will follow the 2019 F1 season.

    Does this confirms there will be a season 2?
    If Merc have not decided by now whether they are in it or not, wouldn’t that mean the documentary camera crew was not filming Merc in Australia?

  8. Also love the way Toto has said his price-fixing and emissions cheating company ‘didnt want the microphone over us’ whilst in the video Sauber said ‘we’re too honest, we’d probably win if we wern’t’ ahh ha

  9. Seriously, how long will it be before F1 get scripted like the WWE

    1. About the time that watching F1 WWE Edition on Netflix is more important than watching the race live. Not long to wait.

      1. The show is a marketing device, and will not resort to realism, which is complicated and difficult. As entertainment, it does it’s job well. As journalism, it is not as shallow as some, but it is an advertisement. I hope that the exposure this Netflix series brings to the sport may bring a new wave of F1 documentaries that dig deeper.

    2. Bro, it’s already being scripted, look around post liberty. Verstappen/Ocon’s little tussle, Bottas’ win, while they showed ocon watching in the garage…

      It’s written a little better than the WWE, but let’s wait til season 5…

  10. There is a different environment when you are within your inner circle in the team and you need to protect it, and [then] you have a microphone swinging over your head and a camera pointed at you.

    Ah the inner circle… Where you are allowed to say things that are actually true.

    1. @petebaldwin You mean like how every pundit (including Ferrari themselves) estimated Ferrari to be the fastest team during testing? Just like they were in 2018 and then were slow in Australia. And then not slow the races right after …

  11. Was it because of sanctions Sirotkin didn’t appear?
    Because if for political reasons they omit a driver, then it’s not a genuine representation

    1. Perhaps he didn’t want to sign the release because it put him in a bad light compared to others?

    2. I doubt it, Hartley wasn’t in either.

  12. Derek Edwards
    19th March 2019, 19:29

    “The narrative is interesting, it creates stories that are not the obvious ones, it’s not about Ferrari against Mercedes.”

    I wonder why…

  13. Ehm, after having thought about this one for about a day, isn’t that a bit of a lame excuse from Mercedes though?

    1. Merc’s mystique is preserved, at least. ;)

    2. @bascb Was thinking the same, but it also makes sense. If it’s a distraction for Mercedes and Ferrari is not undergoing the same distraction, then it could potentially cost them points and therefore the championship(s).

  14. Ferrari will probably be better off with their own program on Netflix like Juve on. Same for Lewis, who could probably have a show just about him.

  15. *NEW ALERT*: “This just in; Mercedes jumps off of bridge after Ferrari decides to do the same.

  16. You know, I’ve only watched a few episodes so far but I hadn’t even noticed Hamilton or Vettel weren’t in it. That might explain why I am enjoying it so much.

  17. The good: the eye-candy, F1 looks like a videogame. Sky commentary. Buxton. The drama of midfield teams, drivers and bosses (Newey and Abiteboul, Crofty and Vijay, the reporter and Boullier…)

    The bad: personal lives of drivers and bosses, with their huge estates, yachts and selfies, are of no interest except to romantic comedy fans. It drags. Verstappen acknowledging that his mom washes his undies ffs.
    The series utterly ignores F1 history. Absolutely. The show then portraits a very shallow F1. What has Newey done? Where was Zak before? What’s the general history of Renault? Shallow.
    And lastly, it only shows the good side, praising Alonso and McLaren’s struggle, but “forgetting” crashgate and spygate. Shallow again.

    So, a mediocre series wrapped in beautiful eye-candy.

    1. BlackJackFan
      20th March 2019, 6:29

      I find this an astute review…

    2. Like.

      The whole thing felt like a compromise when Ferrari and Merc said no. From that point, it was, OK lets concentrate on two teams, with a bit of stuff from the others that aint the top two and call it something that doesn’t mean we have to acknowledge what we couldn’t get.

      Considering this came from Senna, it was vanilla to quite an extreme. Do we really need to be told in episode 7 what qualifying still means?! And the non Sky commentary, OMG, it was like what you get in a video game. Awful hand holding throughout the entire show.

      Anyway this is more of a review of the program, but for me, completely ignoring the top two was poor. Even if they didn’t “take part” the almost total lack of talk about them lost how much the lower teams struggle. If a non F1 fan watched this, I fail to see how they would not question why there was zero talk about the championship contenders.

      Toto’s excuse was utter BS. You really had no time for some talking head stuff?! A team two/three times the size of Haas and it would be a distraction?! Get the &*() out of here. Even if it did, you had no excuse not to allow some radio talk to be released. No-one was doing anything extra for the show in that regard.

      It looked awesome (Virgin cable here so no UHD) and sounded great, though falsely enhanced.

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