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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Derrick

Move over Drive to Survive, it's time to bring Formula 1 back to life

*Warning, Drive to Survive spoilers*

Well it's almost here. The 2022-23 season of F1. I don't know about you but I'm still fuming about how the 2021-22 season went down. I like Verstappen. I think he deserved to win as much as Hamilton. But both guys were cheated. If Verstappen was meant to win, he deserved to have won after a really good race where he was leading or where he out-drove Hamilton. But that didn't happen. Hamilton deserved the win based on his race.

Some fans have waited patiently (ish) for Netflix's Drive to Survive (DTS) to come out to see what really happened behind-the-scenes during the most-heated season yet (spoiler alert, you won't see it) but many loyal Formula 1 fans have walked away from the sport altogether, feeling let down by the FIA enquiry and blaming Netflix for forcing drivers into creating drama. As one fan perfectly put it, DTS season 1 was an informative docu-series about Formula 1. Seasons 2-4 is a reality series with Christian Horner as Kim K. But now the drivers are over it and so are the fans. You can't script sport. The drivers just want to drive and the fans who've been there from the start have lost trust in the FIA.

We've been saying it for years that brands need to remain authentic and sport brands even more so. Fans demand raw, gritty, organic competition but they are increasingly demanding increasing accessibility which is exactly what DTS achieved. It was the best brand move Formula 1 and the racing teams could have made. The previously unreachable 16-34 year olds are in. Female numbers were increasing. Fans were watching for longer, across all moments of the three day event. But DTS very quickly stopped catering for its most loyal audience; the original fans. DTS and F1 got greedy. They sold out.

So really, how much longer can DTS go on for? History tells us that sport reality TV can't stay fresh for more than a few seasons without turning silly. Which it has. Will the drivers even still take part given the controversy it's created? If every season could be like the first, DTS would keep everyone happy. But it's not. So how can we keep that feeling of closeness, build up the driver brands as well as F1's but remain real, authentic and true to the sport, keeping all fans happy - both new and old? We have some thoughts:

  • Ramp up the basics: Bring back the ability to hear all radio comms (stupid decision FIA) and create a DTS that is streamed at the same time as the race. Give fans a second screen option where we can see pit stop preparation, live reactions to drivers retiring/winning/losing/crashing, preparation before hand and wind down after the race

  • Unparalleled geeky access: Pre and post-race interviews, exploring the locations with the drivers as our tour guides, a look at the preparation that takes place prior to a race, explanation of the immense logistics that go on, a day with the engineers to see how they fix cars so quickly or even how they create the cars in the first place. Take us through what F1 is doing for sustainability etc. etc.

  • Get rid of sprints: Sprints were created to entice more fans to attend the practice and qualifying days and to essentially create more opportunity for drama and controversy. But the format is terrible and inauthentic. It's not what any fans want. Stick to your roots

  • Incorporate F2 and W Series: Open the game up wider than just F1. Allow fans to start building their relationships with up-and-coming F2 drivers and female drivers. The latter is especially exciting as we get closer to seeing females back in F1!

  • Review use of sponsorship: Now's the time to announce how F1 is going to be socially and economically sustainable. Fans won't turn a blind eye to the corruption in the sport for too much longer. F1 needs to think how they'll fund the sport going forward where there is no Russia, Saudi, tobacco or betting brands available.

Easy solutions but ones that could quickly save a sport teetering on the edge of losing itself. Are you an F1 fan? How would you keep the sport alive?

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