The best F1 documentaries show us the speed and excitement of the sport, or else they get behind the scenes to tell the stories of the human emotions and conflicts that underpin motorsports. But which are the best documentaries to watch just now?
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
Drive to Survive Season 4, released in March 2022, covered the 2021 racing season, and Netflix has already renewed it for the next two years. Each season has ten episodes that let us see the relationships between the drivers and their teams. It also puts a spotlight on the most controversial moments from each season.
A study by ExpressVPN on sports streaming in the USA points out that F1’s growth in the last few years is linked to this show, as they found that interest in the races was correlated to that in the Netflix series. Produced as a collaboration between Formula One and Netflix, Drive to Survive gives us a look behind the scenes of the World Championship. The first series was released on the streaming service in early 2019.
It has been well received, as fans appreciate how it conveys the sport’s drama and gives extra insights into the drivers and teams taking part in F1, although there has been some controversy over how certain events are shown.
Has it led to more fans tuning into the races?
Indeed, the figures for 2021 show that 445 million people viewed one or more races in the season, while there are now more than 36 million F1 fans in the US.
Lucky! and Other F1 Documentaries
Drive to Survive is far from the only documentary based on F1 that you can watch online, and while others lack behind-the-scenes access, there have been some memorable shows over the years and some new films to be released.
For example, a new series called Lucky! will have eight parts and focus on the incredible story of how Bernie Ecclestone turned F1 into such a massive success over the years. Directed by Manish Pandey, it will be screened on the Discovery Channel starting December 27.
There was also talk earlier in 2022 of a new documentary giving us full access to Lewis Hamilton and featuring guest interviewees talking about him. Matt Kay made this documentary, set to feature on Apple TV. No title has been mentioned yet.
As for older films, 1: Life on the Limit includes various racing stars telling us about F1 dangers now and in the past. There’s plenty of archive footage to enjoy while it’s also a thought-provoking look at the steps taken to make motorsport safer without taking away the excitement.
McLaren shows us the story of Bruce McLaren on his journey to becoming one of the most famous racing car designers and engineers in history. It can be seen on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube Movies. Other documentaries worth checking out include Rush and Ferrari: Race of Immortality.
All of these documentaries have their merits, but for the moment, it’s easy to list F1: Drive to Survive as the top motorsports documentary because it introduces new fans to the sport and gives us a unique look behind the scenes each season.