Formula 1 Drive to Survive

5 Thoughts We Had Watching ‘Drive to Survive’ Season Five

Netflix’s hit docuseries, Drive to Survive, recently dropped its fifth season ahead of the highly anticipated first race of the 2023 Formula 1 season.

In the span of 10 episodes, Netflix gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at all the drama that ensued last season — and there was a lot to pore over.

Before we head into the opening Grand Prix of 2023, here are five thoughts we had while watching season five of Drive to Survive.

We hope Mick doesn’t watch this…

At this point, we all know that Mick does not have a seat on the grid for the Formula 1 2023 season.

Mick Schumacher had a relatively abysmal 2022 season. As Will Buxton mentioned in the show, when Mick has a crash, he crashes hard, and last year, he wrecked two of his chassis within the span of the first seven races.

And the team was not happy.

Gunther Steiner estimates the cost of Mick's crash on Drive to Survive
Gunther Steiner estimates the cost of Mick’s crash. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix

And as team principal Gunther Steiner pointed out, “Gene doesn’t hate anything more than crashing a car.”

In the episode, ‘Like Father, Like Son?’ Netflix did not hold back on all the times Gunther spoke candidly about Schumacher. In Baku, for instance, when Mick felt concerned about overheating his brakes, Haas’ team principal said, “He’s worried about overheating the brake. He’s going so slow, he doesn’t need to brake.”

This was just one of several times where Gunther openly called out Mick’s lack of performance. And though the episode ended on a high note, with Mick finally scoring his first points in his F1 career, we still hope he never has to hear Gunther’s side comments about his driving skills.

Steiner on the phone with team owner, Gene Haas, discussing Schumacher's performance on Drive to Survive
Steiner on the phone with team owner, Gene Haas, about Schumacher’s performance. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix
We’re gonna miss the Gasly-Tsunoda chemistry

One of our favorite episodes was definitely ‘Alpha Male’ where Netflix highlighted the relationship between Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri.

In the upcoming 2023 season, the two will no longer be driving as teammates. And while we were happy to see Gasly move on to a new chapter after 10 years with the Red Bull program, it’s bittersweet to see him part ways with Tsunoda.

In Drive to Survive, Pierre referred to Yuki as a younger brother figure, and their relationship dynamic definitely showed.

Netflix Drive to Survive scene of Yuki farting in the car while Pierre drives through the streets of Tokyo
Yuki farts in the car while Pierre drives through the streets of Tokyo. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix

Ever since Yuki’s first appearance in the docuseries, fans could already tell that Yuki was not the most disciplined driver on the grid. And his fun-loving personality shone, even more, this season, farting loudly in the car next to Pierre.

Pierre, on the other hand, has a level of maturity that he has gained throughout his time in Formula 1. And this paired perfectly with Yuki. In one scene in ‘Alpha Male,’ Pierre openly gives Yuki some racing advice, very big-brotherly.

But now, with Gasly gone and AlphaTauri welcoming F1 rookie, Nyck de Vries, we all want to know, will Yuki be able to step up for the team?

Pierre Gasly talks about supporting Yuki Tsunoda as a teammate on Drive to Survive
Pierre Gasly on supporting Yuki Tsunoda as a teammate. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix
The beef between McLaren and Alpine goes on

One of the things we couldn’t wait to get an inside look at was the Oscar Piastri fiasco from last season.

For context, with several drivers shuffling around between teams, and with others leaving the sport, Australian driver Oscar Piastri was the hot commodity for teams on the grid in 2022. But last season, the 21-year-old was Alpine’s reserve driver and had been working with the team for several years.

In the episode ‘Pardon my French,’ Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer even revealed, “We’ve invested maybe $4 million in his preparation for Formula 1.”

Thus, when Piastri revealed that he would not be taking Alpine’s open seat and would instead be moving to McLaren, after all that Alpine had invested in him, Szafnauer was understandably upset.

Netflix Drive to Survive scene of Otmar Szafnaeur sharing his thoughts on Oscar Piastri's surprising move to McLaren
Otmar Szafnaeur on Oscar Piastri’s surprising move to McLaren. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix

Throughout the two-episode arc on the issue, Drive to Survive revealed that Alpine wanted to sue Piastri for all the money they invested in the young driver. This put McLaren boss Zak Brown in the hot seat, and had us wondering, is Piastri really worth it?

Ultimately, however, Alpine dropped the suit and decided to put Pierre Gasly in their open seat.

This wouldn’t be the first time McLaren took something from Alpine. When the French team was still known as Renault, McLaren also swept in and took Daniel Ricciardo from them unexpectedly. In addition, on the grid, the British and French teams are often fighting neck-and-neck for points.

With Otmar Szafnauer going into his second season as Alpine’s boss, there will certainly be some beef to squash in 2023.

Drive to Survive shows Otmar joking about Piastri after Alpine finishes ahead of McLaren
Otmar after Alpine finishes ahead of McLaren. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix
We would have loved a seat at this Team Principals meeting

Surely, one of the most entertaining scenes of the entire Drive to Survive season five was the Team Principals meeting in the episode, ‘Bounce Back.’

One of the main issues Mercedes faced with the new cars in 2022 was porpoising, which basically refers to the bouncing of the cars on the track caused by aerodynamics.

While other teams were able to fix this issue to different extents, Mercedes seemed to struggle with porpoising more than others. Thus, in one Team Principals Meeting, Toto expressed his anger towards the issue in ways that did not sit well with other principals, particularly Christian Horner.

Essentially, Wolff wanted to implement changes to the cars on the grid to deal with the porpoising issues, and as a matter of safety, he expressed, “All of you are playing a dangerous game. If a car ends in the wall because it’s too stiff or bottoming out, you’re in the s–– and I’m gonna come after you.”

Horner replied, “You’ve got a problem, change your f—— car.”

After the meeting, other team principals also expressed their thoughts on Toto’s behavior at the meeting. “I saw Toto reacting in a very emotional way,” Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto said. 

“I believe that as team principals, we always have to stay rational.”

Gunther Steiner shares his thoughts to Netflix on Toto Wolff's outburst at the Team Principals meeting
Gunther Steiner on Toto Wolff’s outburst at the Team Principals meeting. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix
We can’t help but feel for Binotto

If you’ve watched the entire fifth season of Drive to Survive already, one thing that continuously kept popping up throughout was Ferrari’s struggles.

In nearly every featured race, at least one of the Ferrari’s cars was seen struggling, whether it was due to huge mistakes in strategy, crashes, or car failures.

Indeed, 2022 was a huge struggle for Ferrari. One could argue that if mistakes in strategies had been avoided, then Ferrari might have won the championship.

Netflix Drive to Survive scene of Mattia Binotto sharing his thoughts on the criticism aimed at Ferrari
Mattia Binotto on the criticism aimed at Ferrari. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix

And every time Ferrari had a bad race weekend in 2022, fans would call out Binotto as the problem, particularly on social media.

But after watching the fifth season of Drive to Survive, we have to admit, we feel for Binotto. Right from the get-go, the first episode shows Binotto openly expressing to fellow principal Steiner, “But after a few years, it could be the stress, it could be expectations to manage…it’s hard.”

Steiner even shared to the cameras, “I think Mattia, he went through something similar to what we went through, getting a lot of s–– from people.”

Binotto opens up to fellow Team Principal Gunther Steiner on Drive to Survive
Binotto opens up to fellow Team Principal Gunther Steiner. Photo credit: Drive to Survive on Netflix

Indeed, Binotto had to take a lot of flak for an entire year. As the leader of the most historically successful Formula 1 team, the pressure can be daunting. But for 2023, the pressure no longer sits on his shoulders, as Fred Vasseur has taken over the helm at Ferrari.

Based on what Binotto went through, we hope he makes the right calls (and has skin thick enough to take the hit if he doesn’t).

Which part was your favorite on Drive to Survive season five?

Banner image from F1 on Twitter.

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