Netflix announced the renewal of its viral Formula 1: Drive to Survive documentary in 2022, and the painful wait for its return is almost over. Not even two weeks into 2023, Netflix released the season 5 trailer, and its official release date is confirmed for February 24, 2023.
The growing popularity of Formula 1: Drive to Survive was so significant that Netflix didn’t just reinstate the show for a season 5, but a season 6 will also follow.
But for now, we’ll focus on what’s in front of us, and that’s season 5.
The new season will give fans a behind-the-scenes look at how the driver and teams prepared for the 2022 Formula 1 season.
Jame Gay-Rees returns as the executive producer and is well-known for the Academy Award-winning documentary Senna. He’ll work alongside Paul Martin, the man responsible for producing the 2019 documentary Diego Maradona.
But what makes F1: Drive to Survive so popular? And why has it caused a boom in the North American market where F1 has long failed to succeed?
F1 Failing in America
Formula 1 has made countless attempts at cracking the US market – and failed. But after decades of trying, they’re finally heading in the right direction – record attendances in Texas, a first race in Miami, and another flagship event added to the 2023 calendar in Nevada.
However, it wasn’t always plain sailing. The history of F1 in the US has involved experimental races gone wrong, one-time venues, and some straight-up weird ideas that fell at the first hurdle.
While we don’t have the time of day to list all of Formula 1’s failures in North America, some of the most memorable ones involve Las Vegas, Arizona, and Indianapolis.
During the eighties, Formula One conjured up a blueprint of terrible street circuits, attempting to capture the American audience with something that’s worked elsewhere. However, the memories of the Caesars Palace GP in 1981 are best forgotten, especially by F1. A race through Caesars Palace Casino was never going to hit as drivers labored through a lackluster anti-clockwise track in blistering heat, delivering nothing but boredom and exhaustion.
You’d think the F1 learned their lesson in one desert, but nope, the decision to throw up a street circuit in Phoenix, Arizona, provided another failure. Predicting which driver could withstand the heat was the best handicapping approach you could’ve taken at the time, unlike the modern era of F1 racing, where Caesars Arizona promo codes can assist a bettors ticket in any weather.
Oddsmakers must’ve had a hell of a time pricing these races, but between 1989 and 1991, the track produced no memorable races and was quickly put to bed.
One of the final nails in the US F1 journey came in 2005 at the Indy Grand Prix. Tyre failures on Indianapolis’s Turn 13 resulted in a six-car grid. The championship did visit the Brickyard on two more occasions, but the writing was already on the wall – F1 at Indy, and in America, was a hopeless cause.
Netflix Made Americans Turn to Formula 1
The aforementioned failures have made the growth of F1 in the US even more exciting. And it’s been the unlikeliest of reasons that have handed the sport a plethora of new American fans.
Of course, we can’t ignore the Texas and Miami appearances of 2022. But there’s a huge reason why these succeeded and why Las Vegas was added to the 2023 schedule, and that’s because of the fan base garnered from Netflix’s hit documentary.
F1 driver Max Verstappen discussed the series and how they over-dramatize events to “boost popularity [of F1] in America,” but there’s no denying that the end result is working. F1 viewership has skyrocketed since the series aired.
The only American team in F1 – Team Haas – has undoubtedly reaped the rewards and has become a significant part of the series.
Guenther Steiner, Team principal of Haas F1 Team, said: “Data shows us well that this helped a lot [in] the American market. It helped a lot to get people interested – not the avid fan, the guy who watches every race car race. This is different. This seems to be interesting, and then they start to watch and come to races. [The series] had a big impact and what I noticed is the people who recognize it are mainly young people because the way they use TV Is [to watch] Netflix.”