The 2023 Formula One season is on our doorstep, which means that the release of the ever-popular Netflix series Drive to Survive is imminent. It’s hard to believe that the series is now in its 5th season, the showing bringing in an abundance of new followers of the sport to levels never seen in F1’s long history. The F1 docuseries will be released on Friday February 24 and promises to deliver plenty of entertaining content from the 2022 F1 season over its 10-episode run. Here we will take a look at six stories to look out for in Drive to Survive Season 5, and if you want a bit of a teaser you can click here for the Season 5 trailer.
Honourable mention: Guenther Steiner content
When you mention Drive to Survive, one of the first things to come to mind is Haas boss Guenther Steiner. While he has been in Formula One for over 20 years, Steiner became an unlikely on-screen star from the very beginning of Drive to Survive, culminating in countless internet memes and even the Haas team releasing a quick-to-sell-out set of Guenther T-Shirts. Steiner’s straight shooting demeanor and ability to not hold back his thoughts (particularly if a driver is underperforming) is a yearly highlight of Drive to Survive. Mick Schumacher’s early season struggles and expensive crashes will ensure that we see Steiner in full force at points of the show.
Daniel Ricciardo’s struggles at McLaren
This may be the last season for a while that we see one of the most popular and accessible drivers in Drive to Survive in Daniel Ricciardo, so expect a large focus to be on the smiling Aussie. While previous seasons have focused on his surprise team moves between Red Bull to Renault, Renault to McLaren and of course his famous 2021 Monza victory – Season 5 of Drive to Survive is not likely to include as many Ricciardo grins as we have come to know and love. His struggles at McLaren against Lando Norris are well known, and sadly did culminate in McLaren and Ricciardo ending their relationship one year early – an ending that neither driver nor team would have expected or hoped for. Nevertheless, this will make for compelling viewing as this is likely to be a storyline that runs over multiple episodes, with Ricciardo’s on-track struggles an early focus followed by the behind-the-scenes wrangling by McLaren as they court his replacement, which will merge nicely into arguably the biggest off-track story of the season…
Oscar Piastri’s unconventional entry into F1
After winning F3 and F2 in his rookie seasons, Piastri was forced to bide his time on the sidelines for 2022, instead spending the year doing an intensive testing and reserve driver program with Alpine. If paddock whispers were to be believed, Piastri was going to be on the 2023 F1 grid – Alpine loaning him to Williams for the year. This was all turned on its head midway through the season, McLaren courting Piastri from as early on as Silverstone – all while publicly backing incumbent driver Daniel Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel announcing his retirement (more on that soon) kicked the driver market silly season into another gear – Aston Martin making a shock move and poaching Fernando Alonso from Alpine, and Alpine immediately announcing Piastri alongside Esteban Ocon for 2023. Another twist was yet to come – Piastri releasing the below tweet:
A war of words between McLaren, Alpine and Piastri’s camp followed for a couple of months; which will lead to some fascinating viewing when these storylines drop during Drive to Survive’s run.
Nyck De Vries’ incredible debut
At the beginning of the 2022 season, Dutch driver De Vries must have begun to think his F1 chance had passed him by. Fast forward 12 months and the 27-year-old is driving for AlphaTauri and entrenched in the Red Bull family. How did things turn around so fast for De Vries? De Vries had FP1 sessions with Mercedes, Williams, and Aston Martin throughout 2022 which kept him on top of the new era F1 cars. De Vries was in the Aston Martin for FP1 in Monza, leading to Williams calling on his services when Alex Albon fell ill with appendicitis during the Grand Prix weekend. De Vries had a weekend to remember, starting 8th on the grid and impressing the entire paddock on his way to P9 and points on his debut. The frantic change from driving for Aston Martin on Friday to competing in his first ever qualifying session in a completely different car just 24 hours later will provide some great viewing. Following his stunning debut, De Vries became hot property, in contention for Williams, Haas and Alpine drives for 2023 (even testing for the team in Hungary!) before committing to AlphaTauri.
All good things must come to an end. After 16 seasons, 299 starts, four world championships, 57 poles. 53 wins and one Multi 21, Sebastian Vettel announced on the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix that he will be retiring from F1 at the end of the season. As touched on previously, this set off a series of driver market moves that shook the grid which will make for compelling viewing. Vettel’s retirement from the sport he loves so passionately (and has incredible knowledge of) was met with tributes throughout the F1 family. As Vettel made this announcement with ten races remaining in the season, expect these events to be midway through the season of Drive to Survive followed by an emotional farewell in Abu Dhabi, accentuated by his close relationship with Mick Schumacher who also will not be on the 2023 grid.
Max Verstappen’s return to the show
One of the most popular drivers in the sport thanks to his multitude of fans and on-track success, Max Verstappen’s relative absence from Season 4 of Drive to Survive took a little varnish off the finished product. A personal choice by Verstappen was taken to not participate in interviews or the show in general, with only some background and on-track footage shown of the now-double World Champion. On-track, Verstappen’s dominance was the main story of the season so to have him sit out Season 5 would again have an odd feel to it. Thankfully the producers of Drive to Survive have made a clear point in the series’ teaser trailer – Max is back. And with a record 15-win, 454-point season – having Verstappen as a part of the show will be a welcome return.
The cost cap controversy
Around the time of the Singapore Grand Prix, rumours abounded that two teams breached the F1’s new cost cap. Not just paddock whispers, it was Aston Martin and champions Red Bull named as the two squads to have breached the cap. As often is the case when controversies arise in Formula One, many words were spoken by team principals, both of the teams involved and their direct competitors. Christian Horner and Toto Wolff in particular renewed their ongoing feud after 2021’s controversial finish with both sides firing shots at the other. As it turned out, both teams did breach the cap to varying degrees, and the team principal’s feud will be heavily focused on in the second half of the season.