Drive to Survive does many unexpected things. The Netflix documentary that tells the story of the 2018 season is refreshingly accessible, while also relating the less well-known stories from the campaign. It doesn’t shy away from the some of the tough questions facing F1 teams, despite being an ‘authorised’ version of events; and it manages to keep up the suspense over an entire 10-episode series.
But perhaps the most surprising thing it does is make a star of Günther Steiner, the world-weary team boss of relative new boys Haas. Throughout the series, Steiner appears regularly looking on with an expression caught between despair and disbelief as his rookie team manages to balls up the pit stops in Melbourne, then drive into a wall behind the safety car in Baku. Steiner has a face that tells a thousand stories – none of them happy.
Cynics might suggest that the early focus on Haas is a ruse by Liberty Media, which is behind the series, to drum up interest in the US for the sport. But there is nothing wrong with focusing on the underdog: most great sporting stories involve one. And in any case, the producers had little choice after the top two teams – Ferrari and Mercedes – declined to take part in the making of the show.
As it turns out, this is a blessing. The absence of the two front-runners forces the makers to all but abandon any attempt to tell the story of the season through the prism of who won. Instead we get a compelling glimpse of the tribulations of the mid-table teams: viewers won’t forget the simmering enmity between Red Bull head Christian Horner and Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul at the height of the engine wars. Nor the scene where an accountant stands in front of the Force India team, reeling from the arrest of Vijay Mallya and resulting administration. The menacing presence of Lawrence Stroll in the Williams pit as his son complains bitterly over the radio reveals everything you need to know about the interaction of money and sport.
Some have taken issue with the fact that this series tells hardcore fans nothing new. That it might appeal to newbies but tells us little about the complexity of pit strategies. But like the absence of the top two teams, the series is all the better for it.
Yes it may be oversimplified and has a weakness for the modern habit of super-fast editing – but it is probably the most gripping and accessible show about F1 in memory. For a sport that is often accused of disappearing up its own over-engineered exhaust manifold, that is no bad thing. And it has gifted the wider world Günther Steiner, too.
Available on Netflix
Riley Cars 1896-1969
Rob Malpas. Published by Amberley, £14.99. ISBN: 978-1-4456-8860-2
Anyone who remembers the Riley name only for the last Kestrel (a 1970s BMC 1100 in a dinner jacket) risks forgetting that the marque was once an esteemed, high-quality name with a healthy competition record.
Rob Malpas aims to correct that by running through Riley’s history from bicycles and the first V-twin Tricar and on to the sporting models we often see at VSCC events, such as the pretty Imp and MPH. In fact, the book reminds me how attractive Rileys were in the 1930s – the Monaco was strikingly original and some of the ‘airline’ Kestrels oozed style.
Malpas uses short chapters with lengthy picture sections to outline the sales and track success and then dilution by successive owners, and it works well, with informative captions on the many models. Basic design, but the name is now part of the BMW portfolio, so who knows..? GC
Dirt Rally 2.0
Codemasters’ latest offering is a beautiful-looking, but brutal, rallying title that will thrill and frustrate gamers in equal measure.
Motor Sport is fortunate enough to have a Thrustmaster wheel in the office, and DiRT 2.0 gives a perfect chance to jump in and handle a variety of rally machines. The graphics look gorgeous, and the handling model gives each car a wonderfully weighty and representative feel.
The game is tough, especially when you venture into the faster cars, and it’s unforgiving. There’s no rewind button here to correct errors, you have to shrug them off and keep going. It rewards effort, skill and persistence, but might deter more casual gamers.
There’s not a lot of variety, with only six non-licensed rallies at launch and eight World Rallycross venues.
The official FIA WRX licence is great, but again the cars can prove frustrating to handle. But overall, it’s the market-leading rally sim. RL
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