Formula 1: Drive To Survive Review: Season 5 gets a tuning

Formula 1: Drive to survive

“Formula 1: Drive to Survive gets a tune for Season 5, and the result is a more rewarding, authentic season of racing drama.”


  • Less artificial drama, more real emotions

  • The participation of Max Verstappen highlights the series

  • Wraps up the big F1 headlines of 2022 well


  • Some racers get lost in the mix

Sports documentaries can often be a hard sell for viewers outside of a particular fandom, but every once in a while a series pushes the boundaries of a particular athlete, team, or a particular sport’s longtime, dedicated fan base. Netflix seemingly streamed lightning in a bottle Formula 1: Drive to survivehis documentaries on the Formula One World Championship, which debuted in 2019 and received critical acclaim (and mainstream hype) throughout its first four award-winning seasons.

Season 5 of Formula 1: Drive to survive gives the series a much-needed overhaul in its 2022 season chronicle, tweaking some critically acclaimed elements of the show while providing a deep, thoughtful look at the action both on and off the track. This includes the drivers, teams and the business side of Formula 1. As in the seasons before the current, the latest set Drive to survive Episodes offer an insight into the sport that is as entertaining and fascinating for newcomers as it is for longtime fans.

This recap of Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 5 is based on the first eight episodes of the 10-episode season.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner stares at a screen in a scene from season five of Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

return of the king

One of the biggest changes in the show’s fifth season was something that was conspicuously missing Drive to survive in recent years: the presence of reigning world champion Max Verstappen.

Verstappen, Red Bull’s lead driver and currently one of the sport’s biggest stars, boycotted for several seasons Drive to survive due to complaints about the way Netflix portrayed various elements of the sport – from driver relationships to events taking place during races. Verstappen declined interviews and was largely a background character on the show up to that point, leaving audiences without the story of his rise to the sport’s top flight in recent years.

That changes in season 5, which sees Verstappen take center stage in many of the season’s 10 episodes – and the perspective of the sport’s reigning champion is a welcome addition to the show. The interviews he conducts with Netflix are insightful and always add a new, fascinating dimension to what we see on screen. His presence fills a gap that casual viewers might not have been very aware of, but it does make the series stand out as a whole.

Several drivers, including Max Verstappen of Team Red Bull, walk down the track wearing their helmets in a scene from Season 5 of Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

Less friction, friendlier

Perhaps as a result of the deal that brought Verstappen to the show, Season 5 of Drive to survive also spends significantly less time feuding (real or otherwise) between drivers, instead building drama out of the sport’s larger visuals and team rivalries.

Previous seasons of Drive to survive didn’t shy away from shaping drivers into heroes and villains in the series’ season stories – much to the annoyance of many drivers. That storytelling strategy has largely disappeared in season five, which spends noticeably more time highlighting the delicate balance between camaraderie and competition that exists among the men behind the wheels of Formula One cars.

Drivers Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Riccardo and Sergio Perez stand together before a race in a scene from Season 5 of Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

That narrative doesn’t go unnoticed, however, as Netflix still finds plenty of drama to delve into as teams grapple with a host of new rules, new car regulations for the 2022 season, and many racers once again fighting for their careers.

Drive to survive is at its best when it comes to the tales of experienced drivers struggling to stay competitive late in their careers, or young drivers learning to succeed – or fail – under the intense pressures of Formula 1. The drivers and team principals (essentially the leaders of the racing team) are the faces of the sport, and Drive to survive did a great job making their stories engaging no matter how familiar you are with the sport. Overall, by taking back the fabricated drama and leaning into the people themselves, Season 5 feels like a more worthwhile arc of the show, letting everyone’s stories resonate in a more genuine, personal way.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and team boss Mattia Binotto shake hands in a scene from Season 5 of Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

victory lap

It’s a testament to the effort and vision of the series’ producers and creative team Drive to survive is as accessible as is possible from season to season.

Viewers don’t need to know anything about cars, racing, technology, or economics to quickly fall in love with the series’ narrative Drive to survive has managed to maintain that mainstream appeal – while also offering plenty of new content for longtime fans – in all five seasons to date. The series’ latest season is arguably its best yet, thanks to the broader perspective we get from Verstappen’s participation, and the sources of drama and compelling storylines it delves into this time around.

Not only one of the best sports documentaries in recent years, but also one of the best documentaries currently in production, Formula 1: Drive to survive continues to earn a spot on the podium for Netflix. Season 5 represents a sort of overhaul for the show, however Drive to survive A more finely tuned, more powerful storytelling vehicle leaves the garage, and it feels like there’s still a long way to go.

Season 5 of Formula 1: Drive to survive Premiered February 24, 2023 on Netflix.

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