F1 Drive to Survive Season 6: Spoiler-free review


Netflix's F1 show Drive to Survive’s has stalled in its search for drama in recent seasons – can it strike gold again in Season 6?

Carlos Sainz Ferrari Netflix Drive to Surive S6

Sainz comes under the spotlight


Welcome to our spoiler-free review of the latest instalment in Netflix’s F1 blockbuster series. If you’d prefer to read a more detailed verdict with a few (small) spoilers, click here for our full Drive to Survive Season 6 review.

What is Drive to Survive without its characters? Writing a spoiler-free review of the Netflix hit series can feel like a generic F1 soap opera. Team-mate tiffs, long running contract sagas, bosses talking tough and the inevitable catchphrases? Check, check, check and check.

After five seasons, some are tiring of the format. Overlaid with spectacular on-track footage, the show has appeared too much like a marketing arm for F1, with viewers unable to see the woods for the saccharine sporting cliches in more recent series.

There were even rumours of changing the format in an effort to regain its va-va-voom or cancelling it altogether.

But that was hardly likely in F1’s age of excess. This season and beyond we’ll have more races (round car parks) than ever, more sprint-quali-something-or-others, more corporate partnerships on wheels (Stake and VISA CASH APP, but no Andretti thank you) and equally as importantly, another instalment of Drive to Survive.

Lawrence Stroll Netflix Drive to Surive S6

Stroll plots F1-world domination


Even so, the series that supercharged its sport now has many challengers. These come from rivals, like Amazon’s cookie cutter football series All or Nothing and NASCAR: Full Speed (clearly up all night thinking of that one), but also in the shape of friendly fire – DtS producers Box to Box are using a copy ‘n’ paste approach in making tennis, golf and rugby union versions of its breakout grand prix success.

So can DtS maintain…shudder… pole position? And also improve on its lacklustre recent efforts?

Well, there have been changes, and not just on the production side. It’s quickly clear that both the new series and its protagonists scream self-awareness.

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Almost every DtS offering thus far began with an episode explaining how F1 works and setting out its main heroes and anti-heroes. But its raging success, ubiquitous F1 social media coverage and the Abu Dhabi ’21 atom bomb, means there’s now little need for this.

No longer a niche sport, we now know F1 is the fastest, most glamorous, most dog-eat-dog game in the world – its Shakespearean narrative has been well established. Grand prix racing’s gone a bit post-modern.

Season six therefore launches straight into a glitzy launch to set up the opening episode, focusing on one team. As the camera’s gaze passes over to the next squad, we realise DtS really has entered its third era.

The first was F1 at its most ‘fok-smashing’, candid best. Almost no one in the championship had been filmed like this before, they didn’t know how to behave, so they just carried on as normal.

Guenther Steiner on F1 grid

Steiner: likely to feature, let’s be honest

The second was when teams realised they could use the series as a comms tool, and so we had to suffer horrendous staged scenes such as Formula Partridge (George Russell) getting his call up to the big boy team and Valtteri Bottas getting booted from Merc over a glass of sparkling water with Toto Wolff.

Now DtS’s third age features characters actually utilising the series in a ‘meta’ like fashion, breaking the ‘fourth wall’ by using the series for their own advantage in the day-to-day dealings of F1. One team boss tries to emotionally needle his driver in front of the Netflix cameras, while the driver himself turns to a lens he knows is focused on him to pull a face when journalists ask him about his commitment to the team. These kind of self-aware moments are frequent throughout season six.

The series’ favourite personalities feature heavily again and their appearances are often coloured by hindsight: several scenes add context to some of the big F1 stories of the current year.

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One team appears almost comedic as the cameras reveal bizarre goings on that hark back to another squad from the 1970s. The paddock’s reaction to apparent chaos show just how strange events are becoming.

One pundit alludes to the fact that no-one really understands how the outfit operates – we’re all a bit confused, and the team looks confused too, but somehow manages relative success.

Two new talking heads are added for season – one who’s a bit wild when speaking on live for TV, but is a more restrained and engaging voice in DtS. An ex-team boss joins to add a bit of class, while a familiar face is there to lean in to the camera and dramatically intone things when you need them to.

There are contract discussions that go one way — only for events to unfold in a different direction, but several big controversies which don’t put the world championship in the best light are left out. We wouldn’t F1 to look bad now, would we? It’s a controversy-free TV show.

It does mean that between the genuine insights, proceedings become a bit repetitive.

The producers appeared to have listened to some F1 fans’ complaints about the series not focusing on the racing enough. The narrative is now more tied into the wheel-to wheel action – so we have less water cooler chat and more epic countdowns to the lights going out at the race start, while drivers murmur profound epiphanies such as ‘I really want to win’, or something like that.

Each episode structure roughly follows the format of: a team experiences some woes, we get treated to some build-up chat, racing ensues followed by happy or sad music with round-up comments.

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Much like the 2023 season, it’s too predictable. If you want a glossy highlights package, this is what you get. It starts well but loses its impetus as a similar narrative unfolds race after race. That’s the danger of following the racing action.

The staged set-piece cringe-fest conversations haven’t been reduced completely either. We continue to find them littered with such bombshells as “We need to work together to achieve our goal etc etc”. If you can stay awake through these soporific one-liners, though, you’re likely to still enjoy yourself.

The final episode is a glowing tribute from F1 to itself, focusing on one of its own big projects, but that too too skirts some of the more negative aspects involved, nicely illustrating where the world championship’s interests lie.

A reasonably entertaining and interesting look behind the curtain, this last episode works as a demonstrator for the series as a whole, and where it’s at right now.

It’s certainly watchable, gives medium-ish insight into the world of grand prix racing, and doesn’t ruffle too many feathers.

That’s F1 in 2024, and that’s Drive to Survive Season 6.

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