It’s nine o’clock (and 56 minutes) on a Saturday, and I have three hours to kill before the first race of the Formula One season takes place in Melbourne, Australia.
Could I record it and watch it in the morning? Yeah…but no. That’s not happening. I don’t want to spoil the results for myself, if I groggily log on to Instagram or Twitter when I wake up, nor do I want to cover my ears when I walk by the kitchen radio.
I’ve been spoiled by both in the past.
Besides, I stayed up until after 3:00AM last night to watch qualifying. I’m committed to this.
To get me through the next three hours, I’ve decided to write this blog post and have the TV on in the background. It’ll be an assortment of college basketball, hockey, pre-race coverage and if I’m desperate – TLC. They’re airing new episodes of Trading Spaces and While You Were Out…which I discovered last night.
Oh, as if you didn’t watch those shows in 2003! I have strange interests, don’t question them.
Anyways, back to Formula Uno.
About a week ago, a Netflix docuseries called F1: Drive To Survive was released. I’ve known it was coming since January 2018, and let me tell you, those were the longest 14 months of my life.
Also the fastest, but that doesn’t fit my narrative, so we’ll scratch this out.
The series is a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 F1 season. I loved it, but I knew I would before I even watched. I’m just sad it was only ten episodes.
I watched nine episodes in two days and then waited a few days before watching the last one, so I could savour it.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what to make of the title of the series. Drive To Survive seems like a very North American title, which might be the point since the sport is much bigger on the other side of the world, and it would be great if more people over here paid attention to it.
But when I first heard the title, I thought it was appealing to the lowest common denominator and trying to use dangerous crashes as a means to sell the sport. Then I realized that wasn’t the case.
I also realized that Drive To Survive could also be used to explain how each driver has to perform, or they’re out of a job, no matter how young or promising they may be.
So, I’m fine with it. But, I still think if this wasn’t a global series, the word “Prestige” would be somewhere in the title.
The top two teams in F1 – Mercedes and Ferrari – did not want to be in the series, so they weren’t. As a fan, I was glad they sat out. They get so much attention during the season, I didn’t need to know more about how great they are.
It was nice to see the other teams in the spotlight and how they know their limitations, which allows them to get excited over a 7th place finish.
Looking back to my early days of watching F1, I knew nothing about the drivers. I barely heard them speak, outside of the top three at every race. That would always be a combination of: Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Mike Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Ralf Schumacher.
Jenson Button needed more air time back then, is what I’m getting at. As did Giancarlo Fisichella, if for no other reason than it gave me an excuse to say, “Heeeere Fishy Fishy Fishy-chella.”
That’s a Sesame Street reference.
I didn’t realize how disappointing that was at the time because that’s how things were back then. Everyone still had some privacy. There was no social media to see what the drivers looked like when they weren’t inside a car. You just assumed they always wore a helmet.
I think a Netflix series like this can attract so many new fans to the sport. I already got my friend Chris to watch it and he confirmed to me a few days ago that he’s hooked.
Would a non-fan like to see the top two teams featured in the series? Maybe. Probably. I think Lewis Hamilton has become a global name and for him to be glossed over, probably had some people confused.
One thing I learned from the show is that the drivers probably aren’t as friendly with their teammates as I thought they were.
I mean, I knew Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon weren’t the best of friends based on how many times they tried to run each other off the track, but other drivers always brought up how badly they wanted to beat their teammate.
That makes sense, but I guess I always had this vision of drivers really caring about how their team performed and that they were happy for their teammate if they did well.
I don’t think that’s the case. I think they put on a happy face in front of the cameras, just to play the part. If you notice the post-race media scrums, there’s always a member of each team, recording the answers the driver gives the media.
I was also lead to believe, last season, that Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull would eventually come to terms on a new contract and everything would be fine. Everything they told the media seemed to be positive, when really, it was eating Ricciardo up and he eventually left for Renault.
All this means is that I’m going to be over-analyzing every interview and looking for any sign of malcontent. I can’t wait.
I’m, truly, looking forward to this upcoming season. There was a lot of musical chairs in the off-season and I’m excited to see what happens when the music stops and the lights go out.
That was a good line, eh?
Last night’s qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix was bananas. Hopefully, the race is equally fruitful.
Another good line, let’s just appreciate that for a second.
Whether you’re a racing fan or not, I highly recommend the F1: Drive To Survive series. Behind the scenes sports documentaries are the best kind of documentaries. I think the average person will grow to appreciate just how difficult it is to drive these cars, as well as the skill and risk that goes with it.
It sounds like there will be a Season 2 and they’re working to get all teams signed on.
This season, I’m thinking of doing a recap (Paul style) after each race. I haven’t decided if I’m doing it for sure, but you’ll know when I know.
I’ll end this post by listing the drivers for each team and an accompanying thought.
Lewis HAMILTON – He’s won 51 of the last 100 races.
Valtteri BOTTAS – I’d be a bigger fan if he wasn’t with Mercedes.
FERRARI (The matte finish on their car looks really good this year)
Sebastian VETTEL – He’s 31-years-old and started in Formula 1 as a test driver in 2005.
Charles LECLERC – I can’t wait to watch this kid compete at the top. Big future ahead.
Max VERSTAPPEN – Please God, let him be a legitimate challenger to the top two teams.
Pierre GASLY – Not sold on him yet, but he’s growing on me.
Daniel RICCIARDO – Hopefully, this car won’t leave him stranded on the side of the road.
Nico HULKENBERG – He really hates Kevin Magnussen.
Kevin MAGNUSSEN – Did not receive a Christmas card from Nico Hulkenberg.
Roman GROSJEAN – He was in his own head a lot last season.
Carlos SAINZ – He really idolizes Fernando Alonso and is now in his seat.
Lando NORRIS – He’s 19 and is starting 8th in his first race with a mid-tier car. Woah.
RACING POINT FORCE INDIA
Lance STROLL – His dad owns the team, therefore he will always have a seat.
Sergio PEREZ – Is probably glad Esteban Ocon isn’t on the grid this season.
Daniil KYVAT – Max replaced him at Red Bull a few years ago, so this is a rebirth.
Alexander ALBON – He’s one of three rookies on the grid this season.
ALFA ROMEO (I’ll always call them Sauber and picture a blue/turuqoise car)
Kimi RAIKKONEN – Excited to see him will this car to finish 5 spots higher than it should.
Antonio GIOVINAZZI – Just wait until the Italian Grand Prix. Just. Wait.
WILLIAMS (Their car is about 2-4 seconds slower than everyone else. Oh Dio.)
Robert KUBICA – So good to see him back on the grid after 8 years.
George RUSSELL – He’s in the early stages of a “Young Bieber” haircut.