Drive To Survive Season 2 & What Netflix Didn’t Tell You

“Precision, Power, & Politics at more than 200 miles an hour.”

 

Someone asked me to describe what Formula 1 was without all the lingo or tech talk and this what rolled off the tongue without even really thinking.

Formula 1 is so dynamically entertaining because behind each win, each incremental gain in power, each action from the FIA, there’s a story. Each story carries a boatload of precedent making the entertainment value of the sport firmly connected to fluency in the nuance of the sport.

So the idea of a major streaming service featuring a show that gave fans the ability to be the fly on the wall sounded attractive. But I found myself wondering – was it even FOR me? 

Below you’ll find the full video documentary with the support article underneath if you’d prefer that experience. Enjoy! 

And this will be a theme over this article. I’m not here to rate the series on the merits of it’s artistic execution. I’m an open fan of the work James Gay Reese does – it’s likely you are too if you’re a fan of “Senna”, “Ronaldo”, or “Amy”. His fingerprints are all over those documentaries along with a few more hits. 

Something I’ve found this sport does not deliver on from a marketing perspective is bridge the gap – give people a glidepath to deepen their love and improve their experience.  It leaves newer fans interested and then immediately overwhelmed. It creates a rift among those who think they are better because they have been watching the sport a long time – yet, I wonder if they’ve ever flipped through the FIA regulations themselves – do they even own a digital copy? Have they pulled the FIA incident documents? Have them combed the technical directives?

These are all things I’ll equip you with today. Because there were surely unexplored areas of Drive To Survive but purposefully so. I intend on helping you bridge that gap as it’s in line with the entire purpose of my channel and why I make content the way I do.

Lewis Hamilton said something interesting about fans that stuck with me:

lewis hamilton

It is the fans that makes the sport what it is, so the more you block them or deter them the worse the business is going to be for the people that own it.

 

If you’re a fan of the sport, bringing more into the system should ALWAYS the goal. Rather than condescend to new fans because of a perceived lack of knowledge, take some responsibility and be proud of ways you can do your job to grow the sport. Understanding who something is for can help you manage expectations which will help you have a better experience. 

This video is aimed at newer fans to the sport so just know that to reset your expectations so you can enjoy the video even If that’s not you. I challenge you to make a list of 10 storylines you would include in season 3 if you were the showrunner down in the comments section. Have them ready by the end of the video and join me when the time comes for my own adaptation of Drive To Survive season 3 where I’ll recap the most popular storylines in an eloquent way.

DRIVE TO SURVIVE ISSUE #1: Order Of Events

Let’s kick things off with the most critical issue I take with the show. The lack of chronological order the events take place. This is a critical element to any fan of all levels so I will go into a fair bit of detail on this one specifically and why it’s important to understand this aspect as a new fan.  

Throughout the Formula 1 season, the grid travels the globe in one of most impressive logistical feats of any sport on the planet. 

For more info here, I ALWAYS  suggest people watch Wendover’s video for more info about F1 logistics.

With each race, a new set of track challenges is presented to each of the teams. This is due to the fact that there’s more than just the name on the cars and the drivers that occupy them that varies across teams. Each team chooses an engine to power the car, and an aerodynamic philosophy for their cars to pursue. Throughout much of motor racing history, aerodynamics was merely an afterthought. Don’t take it from me – just look the cars and see if you notice anything about them:

DRIVE TO SURVIVE F1 CAR NO WINGS 1965
DRIVE TO SURVIVE F1 CAR NO WINGS 1963

If you answered they have no wings, you’d be correct. In the first couple decades of Formula 1, straight line speed was everything. It wasnt until 1968 that teams would more teams would consistently start to consider aerodynamics that we’d start to see some of the bits on the car we’re used to today.

And while the engine is indeed important as it controls straight line speed, a sole focus on minimizing drag neglects a considerable amount of racing. In particular, elements of downforce had yet to be implemented in major ways. Downforce is quite literally the opposite of the mechanism that gradually lifts a plane from the sky. While there are some racing series on the planet that do boast similar top end speeds as F1, there isn’t a sport in the world that can match the blending of Formula 1’s top end combined with the car’s cornering speeds.

But as with all things – moderation is key. The basic elements of aero considered here are mechanical grip and aerodynamic grip. Mechanical grip refers to the friction generated in the form of grip that a driver has under them that stems from the car itself, e.g., tyres, suspension, and it’s overall weight. Aerodynamic grip refers to the friction levels that create grip associated with bits of the car responsible for airflow, such as downforce.

ENGINEERING SEE-SAW

Why I’m telling you all this is because it is very important to understand the constant tug of war engineers are playing: If you reduce drag, you’ll be fast in a straight line, but every effort to reduce drag is sabotaged by a car with much less downforce. Less downforce means slower in the corners. Conversely, if you pursue a high downforce car, you’ll be gobbled up on the straights especially under DRS conditions but be in a much more advantageous overtaking position in the corner and getting better launches from the winding grand prix circuits. These cars pursue a “high rake” philosophy. So when you hear that term, what’s being referenced is the angle of the car as it relates to the ground. So much could be said here, but simply put, the higher the rake, the slower on the straights that car is likely going to be.

And in theory, it sounds simple enough. Just account for which profile will equate to wins. Because at the end of the day, the most important factor to winning races is the car itself. Each race brings a new set of track characteristics that offer advantages to some teams, but not others. Given that the teams know when each race will be ahead of time, they strategically make decisions about when to apply upgrades to the car. If there’s a particularly downforce dependent circuit coming up, they’ll add bits accordingly. In a normal season, usually post-break is where most teams upgrade to the next SPEC engine given it’s right before two of the most power hungry circuits on the calendar. 

But upgrading isn’t cheap – as it relates to the team or the FIA. The other critical piece of information for this point is that you need to be aware that they can only apply so many upgrades to the car over the season. Alternatively, cars are penalized should they breach the allotted amount of parts used per infraction.

LIVE EXAMPLE

Case and point, Bottas after Eifel. The limit is 3 units each of the ICE, MGU-H and MGU-K units for which he will likely be hit with a grid penalty at the next race if indeed his failure was hardware related and not software. Should Valtteri get a grid penalty, it would massively influence his ability to fight in the championship. Nevermind against Lewis, he’ll now have to fend off Max as he continues his flawless streak of podiums when classified. 

When you’re watching drive to survive, you get no sense of a situation like this. There is no sense of order or bearing you have on the season, where we are, and what is to come.

Let’s look at the series for this part: in season 2, episode 7, Ferrari enters the show at the USGP which is the 19th of 21 rounds. It should be said this was the one episode Ferrari allowed Netflix inside their garage. Horrible luck all things considered had they chosen SPA, Monza, or Brazil we’d have an episode we’d never forget. You’re shown bits of flashback, which are excellent by the way, and do a good job of wrapping up what you NEED to know wasting as little time as possible. The narrative presented though fails to adequately explain that the season at times didn’t favor Leclerc at all in terms of his treatment by the team. Not even after Leclerc’s inaugural victory at SPA had he passed Vettel in the championship. He still trailed by Seb by 12 points. Leclerc was outstanding in the second half, but had made some questionable decisions prior to that.

This is something I covered in great detail prior to the end of last season sensing much of this was on the horizon.

But missing that out of order, Leclerc’s rise isn’t nearly as gripping. The level that Leclerc improved over one season I still have trouble understanding. It was unprecedented IMO. At the same time, the gravity of Seb’s exit in 2020 to Aston and his performance this season take much more clear form when you see a former 4x time champion backed by his team fail to capitalize on opportunities as his younger teammate goes for broke week after week in spite of consecutive team orders that stifled his races. Yeah, he’s making mistakes. But it was obvious that once Leclerc caught fire, there was no turning back. Watching that come to fruition at Monza and SPA with Seb having the performances he did was dramatic enough. It just felt like a missed opportunity to develop a character for new fans – Leclerc’s story is a compelling one. Made all the more so because it’s all based on true events that need no extra fluff to make them interesting. 

While I understand filming was limited, it’s not explored or even hinted at the fact that prior to the new spec upgrade at the break for SPA, Ferrari had 3 poles in total. Fast forward to the USGP prior to the racing events getting underway where Netflix picks up the episode, there was a lone grand prix where Leclerc DIDN’T take pole position. And Ferrari had yet to miss out on pole honors at that point. But because the priority wasn’t chronological order, we don’t get a glimpse of the newly acquired pace from Ferrari nor the impact Leclerc’s wielding said new found pace had on the deteriorating relationship between the pair. And even further, but likely too dense for the cover of someone scrolling through netflix, how Ferrari’s new pace was making teams on the paddock start to get suspicious. This period Netflix covered ironically will go down as one of the most talked about, confusing, polarizing FIA decisions in this era hands down. 

So overall I would rate the depiction of the season in Chronological Order 5/10.

DRIVE TO SURVIVE ISSUE #2: Team Culture & Drama

For these next entries in this article, I’ll be weaving them together for a more concise story.

No team is immune to the drama. This was proven with the entire episodes dedicated to the intimate look at tough to reach world champions all the way to Guenther Steiner reprising his role as the most vulgar one of the lot of them.

It did lead to this absolute gem that will go down in history:

lewis hamilton

HE DOES NOT FUCK SMASH MY DOOR!

Now, is this realistic?

I mean… I would say yes…Kind of.

My only issue with this is you miss out on the importance of minding your words in public. Formula 1 is a sport that is global as it gets. Brands pay millions AND MILLIONS of dollars to be on the car. Drivers are well versed in what they say and how they say it. Even over team radio. So it’s true as so much as each boss and driver has let a bit of their Guenther side shine on occasion.

But for the most part, there’s value in knowing your mic is hot. Nothing wrong with not playing by those rules but it serves no benefit, and even less is lost by being mindful of your words. While it was entertaining, you get the false sense that Haas is poorly run. But i’m of the opinion that Steiner has proven he knows what he’s doing and Gene Haas is nothing short of brilliant as a motorsport operator. This is neither of their first rodeos in motorsport leadership.

The only important aspect to call out is you’re left with the impression that Grosjean and Magnussen are hopeless and it’s a miracle why they have their seats. The reality is, it’s not a miracle at all really.

It’s all about the MONEY.

DRIVE TO SURVIVE F1 CAR NO WINGS 1965

Let’s put aside my own conclusion based on the data that suggests both drivers are qualified for the car they are given. F1 is not SOLELY about results on track. Sounds weird, I know. But what would be impossible for Drive to Survive to pursue and is private info not put on front street for the public audience are the value of personal sponsors and the role each driver plays in funding the teams operation. A video that has priority on my production list is around the false stigma of a “pay driver” and how it’s widely misunderstood.

Drive To Survive did nothing wrong here – but when you go to watch a race on Sunday and see a driver making errors or being difficult and are left wondering why they have a job, don’t forget what we discussed earlier about the development of the car and how results are capped at the limitations of the car’s performance range.

Also never underestimate the value a driver brings to the team.

Could another driver be brought in to marginally increase results?

Sure, sometimes. But does a driver who brings in significantly more capital despite their perceived errors afford the team more opportunities to develop said car? Most times, yes. And it’s prudent to balance the risk-rewards of each situation.

This also reveals itself in the form of Episode 8 which features Nico Hulkenberg. This entire episode was brilliantly written by James Gay-Reese and the Box To Box studio production team. “Musical Chairs” features more interteam drama with Renault team orders that reared their head at the Canadian Grand Prix. In the latter stages of the Canadian grand prix, Hulkenberg is asked not to attack Ricciardo so they can turn in a P6 and P7.

TEAM ORDER HISTORY

This may seem confusing at first but at the end of the day, the constructors championship is the one that brings in the money to the teams. Therefore, it is the championship that gets prioritized. What you weren’t told was the long history of team orders and that for a recent stint, they were outlawed by the regulations from the 2003 season until the 2010 season.

Two incidents specifically bookended the the regulation change. What lead to the start of the team order ban was the 2002 Austrian grand prix incident between the Ferrari drivers of Ruebens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher. Barrichello was asked over the radio in no uncertain terms to move aside so Michael could come through for the victory which they executed on the final corner on the final lap.  Orders aren’t necessarily new but when the optics are this bad, they got a firm reaction from the FIA.

The second situation that eventually got them lifted was the 2010 German Grand Prix incident between Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, again both Ferrari drivers. The message that will go down in history:

Ok so, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?

Rob Smeadly who was Massa’s race engineer delivered the crushing blow, but if you were like me and wondered why he asked if he “understood that message, it was because Massa had heard something similar in just the second grand prix of the season in Melbourne:

Come on mate, he’s faster than you..he’s faster than you. Felipe, Felipe..Fernando behind, is faster than YOU. That’s the message.

The situation didn’t raise eyebrows and likely many people weren’t aware because Felipe did not obey this order and he went on to take third place. But in the 11th round at Hockenheim, Smeadley’s second message that came through after he obeyed the order was what triggered the FIA to take action:

Ok mate, good lad. Just stick with him now. Sorry.

After this controversial decision and Ferrari’s fine, the FIA decided the teams could do away with their cryptic games considering they couldn’t really regulate team orders nor decide what constituted a violated by the letter of the law consistently.

INSIDE LOOK AT THE SILVER ARROWS

Speaking of the German Grand prix, it’s the race where Mercedes allowed Drive To Survive film. And they couldn’t have selected a better race given it was Mercedes 200th grand prix. This is one example of another creative decision that I can 100% understand but it’s not consistent with the reality of the season… well… the era, really. Mercedes are made to look like they are struggling. With an episode title like that of the one that featured the now 6x consecutive double world champions, “Dark Days”, it’s obvious this is a reference to the massive loss of the motorsport icon in Niki Lauda.

The emotional toll this took on the team is not in question, but I’m only bringing this up with the assumption you’re a brand new fan and not privy to the Mercedes domination in the turbo hybrid era. In this era, The silver arrows have won 98 races – that’s a 74% win rate leaving just 34 races not won by Mercedes since the regulations changed in 2014 (as of Round 11, 2020). Ultimately Mercedes would only score a couple of points in front of the Netflix film crew – narrowly missing out on a double goose egg in the scoring department. Something that’s only happened twice in this era – and both of them at the hands of a double DNF. 

%

Mercedes TURBO HYBRID ERA Win Rate

THE WILLIAMS SAGA

But netflix did catch a lot of goose eggs in their following of the Williams team in Episode 9 titled “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”. 

IMO, this was arguably the best episode of the entire show. This was everything Formula 1 is in its most honest, “dramatic” form. It just happened to be for all the wrong reasons. You get the entire saga of the car failing to be ready in time for testing – a cardinal sin for a technical director and usually a sign of bad things to come for that race car. While that portion of the story is laid out near flawlessly, there was one bit I had to call out.

I’m not even sure why Buxton said this but I like to think his hesitation after he said it was the realization of his error. 

What Drive To Survive didn’t tell you was that this isn’t true. And it matters solely because this slight shift in the narrative demystifies how they could make such a colossal error in failing to have their car ready by the start of winter testing. By the time Paddy Lowe joined Williams in 1987, he was 25 years old. Williams had won 3 constructors championships and 2 drivers championships. They had mastered downforce and then on to turbo with Frank Dernie leading the aerodynamic charge as well as the passive systems before his exiting of the team following the final title of the 80s in 1987. I’m not saying his age disqualifies him from brilliance – Frank Dernie himself would design his first car and the last for Hesketh in the 308E at the ripe age of 26. But saying “he came up with active suspension” for the sole purpose of drawing a more stark contrast in his “former self” feels contrived. Lowe is a great technical mind and was the brain behind the software that fit the active suspension concepts onto the car – I don’t want to dilute the importance of that.  But as Tommo would say, Dernie was “different gravy” so the debacle of winter testing for williams wasn’t some grand mystery. 

“DIFFERENT GRAVY” – TOMMOF1 

Speaking of other awesome Formula 1 content creators, if you listen closely, you may recognize the voice heard delivering the bombshell revelation that Paddy Lowe has taken a leave of absence:

That would be none other than The F1 Word: if you’ve managed to be under a rock and not follow his channel, you’re welcome. Click here to check out his YouTube Channel.

So overall I would rate the depiction of the Team Culture aspect 8/10.

DRIVE TO SURVIVE ISSUE #3: Battles & Rivalries

The battles and rivalries section is showing exactly what happened in the race but there a few notable moments I take issue with: 1. The S2E5 moment with Verstappen in Monaco. #2 and #3 There’s more to be said generally about the Red Bull situation as well as episode #3 titled “Dogfight”. 

Starting with the episode #5 titled “Great Expectations”, we are in what is basically a two part sequence that tracks the red bull drivers and the Gasly’s woes as the team prepare to replace the Frenchman with the young Thai driver Alex Albon. Before touching on the Red Bull battle, the moment I am referencing that’s out of order comes from coverage at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The episode has you believe Max is attempting to thread the needle at the chicane for turns 10 and 11 on the final lap on Lewis Hamilton. Firstly, this wasn’t on the final lap, and that matters. It occurred on lap 76 of 78. It’s a minor deviation from the facts but the issue is it’s such a well known incident. The moment you draw the eye to take artistic liberties to suit a narrative, you open the door to not being trusted. It’s why you will never so long as I am making content on this channel catch me slipping up and claiming I have a favorite driver or team. Objectivity and credibility are priceless attributes in this sport and rarely are they areas pursued.These tiny details are what fans of the sport found the most troublesome; they start to add up.

A trail of breadcrumbs can make mountains after a while.

It’s also made to look like Max made a valiant effort after a grueling chase. It’s true his hunt of Hamilton was a slog. But that incident on lap 76 was a sloppy dive and in context, was rather desperate of Verstappen. The maneuver wasn’t IMPOSSIBLE – A couple drivers have pulled it off. A couple of to-be champions battled it out here as Mansell slipped Prost in 1991 and then in 2006 Jacques Villenueve was caught napping by Giancarlo Fisichella. But there was nothing clumsy about the tidy form of both overtaking moves.

This contrasts as the rare mistake Verstappen made in 2019. The series does a good job of recovering from their criminal representation of the Dutchman in favor of a more pro-Ricciardo storyline. I’m happy to say mega misses like that were mostly forgone in season 2. This time around, enough is said about the gap that exists from Verstappen to anyone who partners him but it’s all told from the point of view of either Gasly or Albon- mostly the former.  What drive to survive didn’t tell you or expand on is just how much of a problem this is for anyone in the sister car. You’re left thinking that Verstappen is good. Which… yeah… that much is obvious. But he’s so good that he habitually alters the career trajectory of those that cross paths with him.

This brings back into the focus the misdeeds of season portraying Ricciardo’s departure as anything less than a move based on self preservation. The move to Renault could be defended as it was a move from customer to manufacturer – but then we learn  Ricciardo was having early talks of a switch to McLaren well before his 2 year contract was up. So the masterplan was seemingly more about getting out from under the Red Bull umbrella while also, and importantly, escaping the hit to his bargaining power he was sure to take with another loss at the hands of Verstappen. Ricciardo absolutely had bad luck in 2018. But he was still beaten 8-4 when they both were classified. Verstappen also had the upper hand in qualifying 15 to 6, and the Dutchman took 9 more podiums on the season.

So IMO Gasly caught a lot of flak that wasn’t always fair. Some, yes. I covered some of the data behind this by way of explaining Sainz’s 2019 data in my “Curious Case of Carlos Sainz” video if you want to check that out later but for the most part, not many could keep pace with Verstappen in the same car.

This is being proven as much by Albon’s performance in 2020 who seems to be showing the same cracks from pressure that Gasly had to deal with. I made the argument last year that Red Bull is a car that develops very strong throughout the season. Albon was helped a bit by Red Bull comparative being in better form for his ride compared to Gasly who had to deal with the early car. This only heightens the gap between a Verstappen who can be brilliant race on race compared to any other solid driver.

Ferrari Foul Up

Most teams have intersquad beef like this – some aged to prime perfection while others just a light sizzle. We’ve talked at length about Ferrari, but what Drive To Survive didn’t reveal were the otherwise small events that would have profound impact on the rest of the season. I attribute the Monza qualifying incident as straw that broke the camel’s back for the entire degradation of their relationship.

A quick summary of those events – usually in qualifying, you have the drivers mostly working together to aid eachother via an aerodynamic concept referred to as the slip stream. As the leading driver punches a hole in the air, a trailing car can follow close enough to bypass any offsetting aero principles at work on the car. Cyclists do in the form of “drafting”. Much of a formula 1 car is about minimizing the effects of “dirty air” or disturbed air. Teammates help eachother by supplying one another what’s called “the tow” on their qualifying laps. One driver will race ahead in clean air (lack of dirty air principles as they are trailing no one), while the trailing car will get the benefit from slipstream principles and generally be much quicker and putting the car under less stress over the course of a lap. Drivers take turns towing eachother and in Monza, it was Leclerc’s turn to give Sebastian the tow after Charles found himself on provisional pole ahead of the final qualifying attempt.

The affair turned shambly when Leclerc, like many others, crawled to the start of the line attempting to time the flying lap while also getting the best position. Not a new move in anyway but this incident was particularly bad because it wasn’t Leclerc’s decision to rob Vettel of his shot at the tow at Ferrari’s home race while Leclerc himself sat on pole knowing without the tow, Sebastian had no shot at beating his time. Ultimately most of the field had their little game backfire as they’d miss out on making the line before the session clock hit 0:00 with only Carlos making a final attempt. Leclerc’s onboard even more telling as he would go on to ignore his race engineer in silence for what felt like a loop audio track of him being warned to speed up he’s not going to make it.

Fast forward to Drive to Survive episode 7, and the series does a wonderful job painting the events that played out in Russia in a fair way. But knowing about the Monza incident that occurred earlier that month, does this give more motivation behind why Sebastian would go on to not give the spot back in Russia? Keep in mind sandwiched between there was a Vettel win in Singapore where Sebastian would undercut his teammate incidentally to account for other racing situations developing to maximize the points haul for Ferrari. But if you’re Charles, can you really blame him for not seeing this as the team once again choosing Seb despite Leclerc being on the best form as of late? The incident in Brazil as mentioned before here was a long time coming.

Adding on top of all that, in the off season between 2019 and 2020, I called attention to the fact that Mattia gave an odd interview saying the following:

Ferrari boss mattia binotto tyre compounds cranky yankee f1

He knew that he could count on the team for help, if necessary. But I think it was right, it was the right choice and time to let him win.

Probably not the best thing to say to instill confidence in your driver. And it couldn’t be more clear looking at Sebastian’s confidence in the team, car, and himself via his 2020 results.

What Drive to Survive DID tell you was about one of the key midfield battles which was between Renault and McLaren as they fight for best of the rest. I’ll spare you the explanation of the grid’s hierarchy and assume you’re well versed with the idea of the midfield but if not, check out my F1 For New Fans video.

I only mention this because of how many people complained about the “false” drama between Sainz and Ricciardo in Episode #3 “Dog Days”. The two weren’t unpleasant with eachother but that shouldn’t be your standard for Formula 1 drama. The show did a terrific job showing the behind the scenes decision making and thought process of the drivers and teams alike. This is where James Gay Reese really does elevate to a class of his own. You truly feel like you can connect with the drivers. I’m not exactly the issue with this element of the series as this is a genuine attempt to illuminate the stresses of what midfield teams deal with and that they are just as real as any of the top teams fighting for the win.

So overall I would rate the depiction of the Battle & Rivalries aspect 7/10.

DRIVE TO SURVIVE ISSUE #4: Racing

This next category is brief due to the fact that I don’t even disagree with the choice but the show didn’t tell you much about the actual aspects of racing, strategy, or war planning as it relates to formula 1. The reason I was okay with this choice is because the show very clearly chose to focus on aspects that you can’t get on race day. And why wouldn’t they? They had access to things we’ll never get. It wouldn’t be prudent to not pursue the human elements of racing. That’s what makes this sport so relatable. But i’ll go through a few items you weren’t told so you can keep your eyes peeled for them in the future.

As YouTube’s and Twitter’s regulation purist, it was painful to hear zero talk of some of the more interesting elements that played out during some of their filming given they had behind the scenes access. As I alluded to earlier already, Ferrari’s Power Unit controversy was unfolding literally at the USGP where they had Ferrari filming access. Technical Directives came down that would alter tremendously the trajectory of the season.  Given that it was a challenge from Red Bull and their test whether they could fool the fuel flow monitoring sensor, it would have been interesting to see Ferrari’s reaction to such a firm and overt challenge to their technical integrity. 

Another interesting moment occurs where you could have had more information that would be beneficial to a new fan in “Musical Chairs”. The events follow Ricciardo’s late overtake of Raikkonen for which he received a five second time penalty. you get to see the raw reaction from the teams. Often times we’re used to hearing the gamesmanship over radio filled with plausible deniability but rarely if ever would you hear  a team talking so openly about how likely it is they will get a penalty. 

FIA decisions are critical and a major part of the process is understanding the rules to know where the grey area lies. In this case, it was pretty cut and dry. What was also interesting was the language used in the decision. Much of the FIA decision process is like criminal law: it’s about what was said equally as it is what is NOT said.

Here was the statement from the FIA regarding Ricciardo’s incident at The 2019 French Grand Prix:

FIA 2019 FRENCH GRAND PRIX DECISION SUMMARY
Following the incident at turn 8 with Norris, Raikkonen managed to pass both Norris and Ricciardo. Ricciardo, who by then had regained control of his car then chased Raikkonen from turn 9 and subsequently passed Raikkonen. Raikkonen defended his position on the straight moving slightly to the right. However, Raikkonen never put any part of his car off the track and he did not make any move to the right while any part of Ricciardo’s car was alongside, and did not crowd Ricciardo off the track.

This is particularly interesting due to the overt mention of Raikkonen “moving slightly to the right”. Because the regulations say so little about what constitutes a legal maneuver and what doesn’t, especially after the braking zone, every little bit from controversial choices helps establish any following incident. 

The whole reason I’m digging deeper here is to equip you with the investigative tools as a new F1 that you may not be aware of that you have access to. This is what makes Formula 1 so interesting – for the most part, if you invest the time, you can be leverage the same tools as the decision makers. But it takes work and i’m here to not have a life so you don’t have to worry about it. But you should still know where these things are.

In that spirit, click here to download your copy of the FIA regulations for 2021

FIA DOCUMENT LIBRARY

I’ve also linked to the FIA’s website that maintains the decision documents. Simply scroll down the grand prix you are interested in and they catalogue many of the official updates I use leading up to the grand prix for technical aspects, scrutineering, rules changes, any directives, and then post-race decision language. 

Click here to see the FIA library of official decisions/rulings

While we’re on the topic and if you’re still here, are there any F1 topics you’d like explained in a 2-5 minute video? I am excited to finally roll out the F101 series I introduced close to a year ago now. I’ll take any complex topic and distill it down to a digestible form to get you closer to F1 fluency in that area. Feel free to make your requests using the link in the description.

Click here to make your F101 Video topic requests

With all that said, overall I would rate the depiction of the RACING aspect 3/10. But as mentioned, this never was the intended purpose of the series thus I don’t fault them for it.

DRIVE TO SURVIVE CONCLUSION

Drive To Survive makes certain choices that are designed to help initiate, the unitiated. The objective is pretty clear – make racing fans of non-racing fans. But there’s something in it for all types of fans. If you can watch the show and still see a side of Formula 1 you hadn’t before, then the show did it’s job. One thing it illuminated for me was the lack of ownership many fans take in expanding the sport. If this is your passion, then help it to reach other people. Instead, it’s caused undertones of elite mentality between those that “know” the sport and those that do not yet. This thinking permeates more than just the audience. It has burrowed it’s way across motorsport in some circles. If you fail to go through the prototypical paths to F1, you must not be as qualified. It’s been a gripe I have had with the ability for drivers outside of Europe breaking into the top single seater category. There is plenty of talent all around the globe but without the right backing, the hopes of some drivers are about equal to my own landing a seat.

Things can appear so different when viewed through an objective, open-minded lens. As a new fan, this series couldn’t be better for starting your path on your journey to your impending F1 obsession. I look forward to giving you little tastes of F1’s past all along the way. 

About The Author

Cranky Yankee F1

Motorsport Fanatic. Storyteller. Contrarian. Journalist. Writer. Founder. Person.

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