F1 Drive to Survive Season 4: Episode synopsis

Drive to Survive

Sometimes a new series of Drive to Survive can be a tad intimidating: we've broken down what it features without ruining the whole thing for you

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (R) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton collide during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza, on September 12, 2021. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP) (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

How much of the '21 title fight makes it into DtS?


We’re now just over a week away from Season 4 of Netflix’s Drive to Survive being released. The docu-series which follows the F1 circus around the world, has become so popular that fans old and recently converted are clamouring to know what is featured in the latest instalment.

Motor Sport has seen an eight-episode preview (there are ten in total), and this is a summary of what you can expect in each one, and where you’ll find your favourite F1 star or 2021 storyline. We’ve kept it brief, so there’s still plenty to discover from watching it when it’s available on March 11..

There’s no point looking for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yet, as we’re expecting that to be included in one of the final two episodes. For our verdict on the series, read our full Drive to Survive Season 4 review or a spoiler-free version.


Episode 1 – ‘Clash of the Titans’

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 28: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing stand on the grid prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 28, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Hamilton and Verstappen are a big focus of this season – naturally

Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Another year, another Drive to Survive introductory episode. Drivers go into detail on the new “energy” in their teams with changes afoot for the 2021 season, whilst talking heads describe what it takes to make a team boss (extravagant breakfasts and lots of swearing, apparently).

A surprising number of prominent F1 figures quip about wanting Mercedes to finally lose out in the title race in 2021. All fun and games, but as they say, no jokes without fire.

All those concerned get very excited in Bahrain that this might be the year that Milton Keynes finally conquers Brackley, but then Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton just win again anyway.


Episode 2 – ‘Ace in the Hole’

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - AUGUST 01: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren looks on from the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on August 01, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Never rains but it pours: Ricciardo couldn’t catch a break early on in ’21

Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The first of two episodes dissecting the psyche of Daniel Ricciardo. A second big money move in two years now sees the Australian set foot on the shore of the McLaren Technology Centre, only to find the territory is already occupied – by Lando Norris.

The Australian looks like he was really hoping to flash the car up into Q3 with his teeth, only to find it isn’t that easy. Ricciardo is really struggling to get his head around the idiosyncratic MCL35M, but it gets worse: his boyish, funny, charismatic (we’ll stop now) team-mate Norris is doing him over every week.

The Honey Badger is truly distressed, a relations between the two drivers deteriorate also. Can Ricciardo recover his form?

The footage is strangely interspersed with short scenes featuring Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz (nope, we don’t know either.)


Episode 3 – ‘Tipping Point’

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 19: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talk in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Losail International Circuit on November 19, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

At loggerheads as usual

Dan Istitene/Getty Images

More Red Bull vs Mercedes, with a bit of Ferrari thrown in. Again Wolff and Horner engage in what appear to be pretty staged chats with their loved ones over the first meal of the day about the intensity of the championship fight but also pumpernickel.

Monaco plays out brilliantly for Red Bull and miserably for Mercedes – but several laps of Horner’s garden still look more exciting than that ’21 GP round the principality.

Things all come to a head at the British GP, and we all know how that ends. Cue more swearing and breakfast war-planning.


Episode 4 – ‘A Mountain to Climb’

Nikita Mazepin Motor

Mazepin finding the ’21 Haas a bit of a head-scratcher


Reliable Netflix gang-show entertainers Guenther Steiner and his motley Haas crew are it again. This time they invited a Russian oligarch to sponsor them and his spoilt son to drive – what could possibly go wrong?

It soon turns out Nikita Mazepin can’t make head nor rear diffuser of the VF-21 car, being easily trounced by team-mate Mick Schumacher: “I don’t know how he drives that thing” says poor Niki.

Soon, some rather rude phrases are being exchanged between the team and driver, with the elder Mazepin threatening to withdraw his sponsorship early on in the season. However, what can only be described as a genius tyre call at his home grand prix in Sochi means young Maz rescues the situation and blazes a trail to finish, um, last. Pats on the back all round.


Episode 5 – ‘Staying Alive’

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates 2021 Italian Grand Prix win

Honey Badger back on top

Grand Prix Photo

Ricciardo reloaded. He’s still trying to get to grips with that pesky papaya number, whilst things get tetchier and tetchier between the Macca team-mate as races go by. “We’re very different,” says Norris darkly.

Luckily there’s a sprint race for Ricciardo to get his Mansell-esque chops into, then it all falls into place. Bottas gets a grid penalty, Verstappen and Hamilton waltz off the track together and Norris promises not to overtake the old man in front a la Damon Hill / Ralf Schumacher at Spa ’98.

The Honey Badger is back!


Episode 6 – ‘A Point to Prove’

IMOLA, ITALY - APRIL 15: Jost Capito, Chief Executive Officer of Williams Racing looks at the Ayrton Senna memorial during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on April 15, 2021 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Capito: the new broom at Grove

Lars Baron/Getty Images

This episode is all about Williams Racing. After over forty years in F1, the family from which the team is named has sold up, and the not-ominous-sounding-at-all Dorilton Capital has moved in and is ringing the changes.

They have got a motor sport man through and through to run it though: former Volkswagen WRC principal Jost Capito. The new boss soon starts scything through the team with ruthless German efficiency.

George Russell soon gets in the mood also, like a prefect joining in with the teacher grassing someone up, saying some team members need to be given the shove. It was’t like this under Claire!

The team does come through to score a valiant eighth and ninth in Budapest. The new regime is rocking and rolling.


Episode 7 – ‘Growing Pains’


Tsunoda: Cheekiest new character on the block

Getty Images

This horrifically named instalment focuses somewhat predictably on Yuki Tsunoda as well as Esteban Ocon. The former turns this episode into TV gold, by apparently not really wanting to be an F1 driver.

The poor lad’s had to move from Tokyo to Milton Keynes, his Mum’s not around to do his washing anymore and F1 cars are proving a bit more difficult to wield than the blunt-knife F2 machine in which he won races.

Ocon is part of the all-French attack (from Enstone) in the shape of Alpine, soaking up the pressure to win the Hungarian GP.


Episode 8


Two into one won’t go

Ah yes, that familiar existential examination of Valtteri Bottas we all know and love. Seemingly permanently stuck in the crisis of a one-year contract running out, this time the not-so-ice-cool Finn has Mercedes golden boy George Russell breathing down his neck.

The young Brit desperately wants Bottas’ seat, and things come to a head when the two collide at Imola and go full-on BTCC – say impolite words, pointing, the lot. Scandalous.

Bottas can’t resist the inevitable though, and after Russell puts the F1 equivalent of a Scania truck on the front row at Spa, whilst the Finn can only manage eighth, it looks to be all over.

Thus follows a scene of Russell being told he has the Merc seat by Wolff in a scene which looks so staged it would make even (insert West End star here) cringe.


Episode 9 & 10

The controversial Abu Dhabi season finale is not featured in the press preview, but surely will be in the final two withheld episodes. It provided all the drama conceivable and more, but will it transfer onto the screens of streamers?

Other big events could either be the Brazilian and Azerbaijan GPs, but as we’ve seen before, great races don’t necessarily make for great episodes of Drive to Survive.

Could Netflix examine the farce was the non-event Belgian GP, or its own role in influencing F1’s actions in Abi Dhabi? Unlikely, but you never know.

Drive to Survive reviews