Netflix has extended its partnership with Formula 1 and confirmed a further two seasons of hit documentary series, F1: Drive To Survive. 

The show’s fourth season debuted on the streamer in March 11, but Netflix hasn’t wasted much time in extending its run with season five and season six now confirmed. 

In announcing the renewal, Formula 1 revealed that the show’s fourth run attracted its biggest audience yet, with the show hitting the Top 10 of Netflix’s weekly rundown of the most-watched shows in over 56 countries. 

Drive To Survive, which consists of 10 episodes in each season, is produced in a collaboration between Netflix and Formula One itself and goes behind the scenes of the World Championship, with exclusive access to drivers, team directors and all the key players inside the sport. It has been credited by experts with increasing interest in Formula 1, particularly in America. 

The renewal is not a surprise as the show is one of Netflix’s flagship offerings, but there will be some changes needed ahead of the new season after the show’s fourth run was roundly criticised. 

What were the criticisms? 

The show’s fourth season, which documented the 2021 Formula 1 season, benefitted from being able to portray one of the closest fights for the Drivers’ Championship as the race between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton went right down to the final race in Abu Dhabi. That race ended with Verstappen overtaking Hamilton on the final lap after a myriad of issues during the proceedings. 

In the aftermath of that, a number of figures within the sport had complained that season’s dramatic finale had been engineered to create more drama for Netflix. Verstappen, who does not take part in the show, has also accused it of “faking rivalries”. 

Is Netflix planning changes?

According to a report in Forbes, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has confirmed that Netflix has been meeting with management at the various teams ahead of the new season and concerns about the heightened dramatization have been raised. 

Whether it can get Verstappen, who is currently in second spot in the driver’s championship, back on side remains to be seen. 

Formula 1 are in something of a bind. Most sporting documentaries, which look back at some great achievement, like Netflix’s The Last Dance, or try to offer an insight into a team’s season, like Prime Video‘s All Or Nothing, aren’t seen as a way of attracting new fans, rather servicing the ones you’ve already got. But Drive To Survive is absolutely key in growing Formula 1’s worldwide fanbase, especially in the US, where it has typically struggled to compete with NASCAR. 

In short, they need each other and will need to work out a compromise, one where events remain dramatic, but don’t piss off the sport’s key players…

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