Logged-out Icon

Fueling F1 Frenzy with Netflix’s Drive to Survive

Formula 1's US boom credited to Netflix's Drive to Survive, offering intimate behind-the-scenes look, turning racers into celebrities.

Formula 1

A noticeable change from the past, when many Americans were ignorant of the differences between Formula 1 and other motorsports, is the unanticipated rise in popularity of the sport among American spectators in recent years. Formula 1: Drive to Survive (DTS), a unique TV series that debuted on Netflix in 2019, is partly responsible for this renewed passion.

Formula 1’s Netflix Boom: Drive to Survive

Since then, Netflix has released five seasons of DTS; the sixth season will debut on February 23. The series has been essential in bringing a whole new audience to the world of Formula 1 and reigniting interest in a sport that has existed for more than 70 years. Drive to Survive’s success is no coincidence—it offers a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the complex world of Formula 1 racing, which has long been regarded as one of the world’s most competitive motorsports.

Even though the genre of sports documentaries was already well-established, Drive to Survive distinguished itself by providing viewers with an intimate look at the 20 drivers and their ten teams, as well as a peek into the drama, competition, and frequently outrageous antics that take place in the paddock. The early pandemic lockdowns gave the series extra impetus, which heightened public interest in the sport.

DTS’s capacity to make Formula 1 drivers and team principals into superstars outside of the racing scene is one of its distinctive features. With over 90 million hours of watching, DTS’s fifth season was the most-watched sports series on Netflix during the first half of 2023, according to the transparency report. Because of its popularity, it was ranked just outside of the top 100 Netflix series out of over 18,000 titles.

According to Morning Consult, by early 2022, a significant 30% of new Formula 1 fans identified Drive to Survive as a primary factor in their renewed interest in the sport over the previous 18 months. The series was watched by viewers all across the world, but many paid close attention to how big of an impact it had on the American market. Formula 1 had struggled to draw attention in a nation that has always been fixated on sports until Drive to Survive became a cultural phenomenon.

Liberty Media’s Drive: Transformative Engagement

The popularity boom brought about a significant rise in Formula 1 viewership in the US. The series’ popularity contributed to the push to increase the number of races in the United States from one, in Austin, Texas, to three, with events in Miami and Las Vegas.

Drive to Survive’s origins and its influence on the American public can be linked to Liberty Media, an American company that purchased the Formula 1 trademark in 2017. The 2018 season’s docuseries was born out of Liberty Media’s desire to investigate new avenues for fan engagement.

“Motorcore” Movement: F1 in Fashion

Drive to Survive had an impact outside of sports as well; it helped create the cultural movement known as “motorcore.” During this era, vintage Ferrari jackets were being embraced by Americans, including celebrities, and fashion houses like Chanel were infusing motorcore into their catwalk displays. Motorsports was becoming more and more a part of American culture. 

Formula 1 drivers like Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, and Zhou Guanyu attracted notice for their off-track style as well as their on-track abilities. This change aided in the popularization of clothing with motorsports inspiration. Notable people like Brad Pitt were even encouraged to work on a new Formula 1-themed film as a result of the phenomena.

Drive to Survive had an effect that went beyond fashion and television, inspiring the racers to take on new challenges. Based on his experiences in the sport, Daniel Ricciardo is creating a scripted series for Hulu, and former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is producing a comedy about the workplace for CBS.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website