Following the blistering success of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, the Formula 1 documentary returned to our Television Sets in February, greeted this time with a much more excitable and larger fan base than the team at Box to Box films could possibly have imagined.
Whilst season one was a greatly anticipated show for fans of Formula 1, the success of that season alone not only brought more fans to the sport, but also led to the release of season two feeling like the build up to a race weekend itself: Teams, drivers and pundits all tweeting excitably in the build up to the release of the show, ready to binge the several hours of entertainment soon to be served up.
But did it live up to the hype?
The short answer, as it seems from most the F1 community is, YES!
The season as predicted picks up with a brief recap of Season One, outlining some of the protagonists and key changes we have seen since the drivers were last seen (end of the 2019 Season). But also took no time ensuring the viewer that reigning World Champions Mercedes and the ever present Ferrari would be making appearances throughout the series. Adding some world class clout to the line up and personnel we would see over the proceeding episodes.
Without going episode by episode (check it out for yourselves) this season really hammered home the ‘reality’ of life as a Formula One Driver. Something that was so prevalent in the praise of season one was capturing the ”human side” of the drivers and the challenges they face, for me season two excelled even more in demonstrating this and the manifestation of this was through the vehicle of Pierre Gasly.
Whilst very few of us can know what it is like to be a Formula One Driver, all of us know the emotions of joy, sadness and loss. And the Mid Series focus on Pierre really seemed to draw the audience in even further to the struggles of these young drivers like nothing I have seen before from Drive to Survive or any content out there.
From the elation of being promoted to one of the greatest racing outfits on the grid to start the year, Pierre had to deal with a huge amount of expectation and pressure from his new garage. The show lingers on this heavily with the every eloquent Christian Horner persisting on the demands they have of drivers, to Helmut Marko broadcasting to the garage during a race weekend that he is ”too slow”. The empathy you have towards Pierre builds massively, even amongst those in the know.
And so comes the inevitable demotion back down to Torro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) , the disappointment etched into the face and demeanour of the young Frenchman, only compounded by the tragic events of Spa’s F2 race and the loss of his lifelong friend Anthoine Hubert – you become emotionally attached to the welfare of this young driver – and you are alerted more than ever to the realisation that these are not just helmets within race cars that show up on a Sunday afternoon to race. But young men, with not so many years behind them, having to navigiate a world dominated by money and politics with all the pressure in the world mounted upon their shoulders, risking their lives every single time they step into their cars, for the entertainment of us at home, with our Netflix subscriptions.
As the fans who followed the season know, luckily there was a happy ending for Pierre, the Torro Rosso driver securing his first ever podium in Formula One in dramatic fashion, racing Lewis Hamilton to the line to secure second place in one of the races of the year.
Though there is much more that can be said about DTS, Pierre’s story is the one that struck me the most, and for that he will be one of the ones I am routing for most in 2020.