Talking points, highlights and more: Drive to Survive season 3 episodes 1 to 4 reviews

The new season of the Netflix hit-docuseries has been out on the streaming platform since Mar. 19

By Yuri Coghe
@yuricoghe
Now on its third season, the Netflix docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’ offers unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the F1 grid (Photo: Netflix)

The unprecedented access to the F1 grid is back.

The third season of the Netflix hit-docuseries Drive to Survive, focusing on the 2020 Formula One season, has been out on the streaming platform since Mar. 19 offering fans a lot to talk about.

F1total.ca compiled a quick breakdown of all the talking points and highlights from episodes 1 to 4. Stay tuned for more as we are preparing the same content focusing on episodes 6 to 10. And beware: although minor, there are some spoilers below.

Episode 1 – Cash Is King

It’s awfully weird looking back to March 2020 and seeing the F1 season ready to start at the Australian Grand Prix. But it happened, with all the usual features: lots of fans, reporters pilling on top of each other to get the best quotes, handshakes and all the above. Face masks, of course, weren’t a thing.

As leagues got cancelled in North America and Europe due to the COVID-19 pandemic triggering lockdowns all over the world, F1 was ready to go in Australia until McLaren team members tested positive for the virus. The race then got suspended, and the season only came back months later after the longest period with no F1 races in history since the series started back in 1950.

All of these dynamics are present in the episode. The pretty good start to the third season shows drivers and teams adapting to life under quarantine and all the other changes that affected practically everyone else on the planet. The Racing Point similarity to the Mercedes car from the previous year and all the controversy it caused are also an instrumental part of the episode.

Its ‘Cash is King’ title, stylized to ‘Ca$h is King’, is a direct reference to a Lewis Hamilton quote about why F1 was still going ahead with the race weekend in the middle of left and right event cancellations all over the globe. It was perhaps the first sense fans got of a very aware version of Hamilton who was not scared to share his thoughts on important topics and use his influence for the good.

The rest of the year saw him stand up for the anti-racism fight, speak against police brutality, join Black Lives Matter protests in the UK and much more, in a story of speaking out that’s far from over.

Episode 2Back On Track

The second episode shows a completely different atmosphere as F1 was finally returning. While restrictions and protocols were in place, fans were not.

Seeing how F1 adapted to the ‘new normal’ we all know and do not love is intriguing, much like how the rest of the grid was about the new DAS system Mercedes was boasting.

Get ready for a heartfelt moment. Chances are you’ll get emotive watching Lando Norris achieve his first career podium under extraordinary circumstances: setting the fastest lap on the last lap of the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix to bring a 6.5 gap from Lewis Hamilton to 4.8. One for the history books.

The episode also focuses on the Canadian-owned team Racing Point and the impact made by owner Lawrence Stroll on the team’s structure, plans and ambitions. The successful businessman is not joining F1 to lose, either financially and on the track, and the rare glimpse into his mind is definitely a nice touch to the season.

The 2020 Racing Point car caused controversy in the F1 grid due to its large similarity to Mercedes’ 2019 car (Photo: Racing Point)

Episode 3Nobody’s Fool

This incredibly well-produced episode brings everything you need to know about the relations between the drivers of the team that has been dominating F1 since 2014.

The three first years of the Mercedes reign had Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg sharing the silver arrows’ garage. The Briton added a second and a third championship in 2014 and 2015, but the German got the best of him in the following year. The point-to-point battle left Rosberg so exhausted he decided to retire after accomplishing his career goal to win the drivers’ trophy.

The son of 1982 champion Keke Rosberg said that the level he needed to be at to beat Hamilton in and off the track required too much energy, and he wasn’t about to try it again. After all, he was where he always wanted to be: on top of the world.

The choice put an end to one of the best rivalries stories in F1 history, as Rosberg and Hamilton went from best friends at a young age to staring in a drama-filed fight for the championship. And this is all covered in the episode.

Then came Valtteri Bottas. The Finn, who was managed by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolf when he replaced Rosberg ahead of the 2017 season, struggled way more than Rosberg to put up a fight to Hamilton. After four seasons, he collected nine wins for Mercedes – the same number of victories Rosberg had in his championship-winning season.

Other than signing Bottas, Mercedes changed its approach after 2016, showing little to no appetite to see their drivers clash, get in the way of one another and engage in fierce fights for positions and wins. It left Bottas having to play the ‘number two’ role on some occasions, such as the 2018 Russian Grand Prix when he was asked to let Hamilton through and take the win.

The episode brings Bottas’ reaction to that particular instance, getting caught in Mercedes’ politics and facing constant criticism for his performances. The Mercedes-focused third episode is an early highlight of the third Drive to Survive season.

Further reading: OPINION l Far from a ‘Last Dance’: Why this could be Bottas’ last year with Mercedes

Episode 4 – We Need To Talk About Ferrari

The most traditional team in F1 history struggled in 2020. A lot. Ferrari finished sixth in the standings, and even though both drivers achieved podium finishes – Charles Leclerc more than once, it was obviously not enough.

Furthermore, the season became the last of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel as a Ferrari driver, and him being let go by the Scuderia allowed fans to see a light, humoured version of the German. Even if it meant getting called up by Ferrari’s PR for being ‘too jokey’ in a press conference during a tough time for the team. Vettel’s comeback to that, by the way, was remarkable. Leclerc was also reprimanded on camera by team staff, this time for using his phone in the middle of meetings. You know, young people things.

A big Leclerc crash in Monza, the team’s reaction to the secret settlement with FIA over their controversial 2019 engine, and Vettel being announced by Aston Martin for 2021 are also highlights of the episode.


All three seasons of Drive to Survive are available on Netflix. F1total.ca will review episodes 6 to 10 in the following days. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date with our latest content.

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