Netflix's Drive to Survive returned for season five to cover F1's 2022 season in its trademark Hollywood-style cinematic way. The half documentary/half drama wowed F1 fans and welcomed casual viewers like no other content in its 2019 debut season. However, since then, the teams have become slightly more reserved around the showmaker's cameras, and the seasons have started to feel formulaic. Season 5 was no exception, but there was still plenty to pick up on from the later 10-episode season for the eagle-eyed watcher to make it another must-watch season.
Principal vs. Principal
While we're well-used to seeing F1's 20 racers take each other out on the racetrack, there seemed to be more clashing from their bosses in 2022. Of course, team Principals bickering and trying to get the upper hand is nothing new for F1 or the hit show, but the all-encompassing scraps felt tenser than in the show's previous seasons.
Red Bull's Christian Horner and Mercedes' Toto Wolff resumed their hostilities with a notable swearing-heavy argument at Baku in Episode 2. However, Horner's previous occasional ally at Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, was also happy to sharpen his knife after the cost cap scandal. Binotto's "I never mentioned your team" defense to Horner's accusations of the Ferrari boss using the media seemed flimsy and heightened the tension between the two.
Away from the big three, McLaren's Zak Brown and Alpine's Otmar Szafnauer had plenty of screentime in Season 5. Brown was happy to kick off the anger at Red Bull's cost cap breach, but he also had to defend himself from Szafnauer's legal threats over the Oscar Piastri poaching. Awkward meetings in motorhomes galore, but terrific television to watch.
Steiner Shines Again
Guenther Steiner, it seems, is the only boss to be as popular with other bosses as he is with Drive to Survive fans. The Haas Team Principal's unique outlook on life shot him into the public eye from the first episode in 2019. Steiner's anecdotes and unfiltered thoughts on proceedings remain everpresent in Season 5, and he's often shown laughing with his peers.
"I'm done with Russians until I leave this planet," hilariously says Steiner on the Nikita Mazepin sacking in Episode 1, where he also enjoys an Italian drive with Mattia Binotto in an old-school Fiat 500. Another standout moment was F1 CEO Stefano Dominicali chastising Steiner like a schoolboy for talking in class with Alfa Romeo's Frederic Vasseur.
The best of Steiner in Season 5, though, came from a miscommunication with a journalist about Steiner saying "hugged," but sounding like he said something that rhymes with "mucked"... "Last year, I would have **** the whole paddock for two points," is the quote, but you can decide what the missing word is!
Drive(rs) to Survive
It wasn't just those in managerial roles that had time on the camera. Most drivers had their behind-the-scenes moments recorded, too. We see Mick Schumacher's immense pressure to emulate his father in far more emotive detail than we witnessed in 2022. Sergio Perez seemingly also suffered from mental anxiety about keeping Red Bull's second seat. The media covered both storylines last year, but seeing the toll on each driver humanized the pair.
Perhaps the most audacious 2022 story came after Sebastian Vettel's retirement and the following jigsaw puzzle of driver transfers. Of course, we all know Fernando Alonso is one of F1's most political drivers, possibly ever. However, seeing the enjoyment he takes from being, as he calls it, the "anti-hero" was a fascinating thing to hear the Spaniard admit.
Some other standout moments include learning about Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton's run-ins with the police, Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda's bromance extending to in-car farts around Tokyo, and how much of a consideration Daniel Ricciardo was to go to Alpine despite leaving Renault high and dry after the 2020 season.
Although the teams and drivers seem too wary of Netflix to give any of those iconic first-season moments, Season 5 is the best entry in the series for a few years. Hardcore F1 fans have more than morsels of fresh content to enjoy, while more casual viewers can feast on another season of premium content. Whichever camp you fall into, Drive to Survive Season 5 is well worth watching.