With two high-octane seasons in the kitty, Formula 1: Drive to Survive became one of the most popular docuseries created by Netflix. Fans like me had been eagerly waiting for the third season to drop on 19th March and re-inject the dose of adrenaline rush. So, does the drama in the 2020 season measure up to the histrionics of the previous two seasons? Luckily, it does!
The 2020 championship had a delayed start in July due to the outbreak of COVID-19. As a result, the total tally of races was reduced from 22 to 17. Many records were created last year. Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher‘s record of seven World Drivers’ Championships and broke his record of 91 career wins. Mercedes secured their seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship making them the only team to achieve the feat, breaking Ferrari’s record from 1999 to 2004. The ten-episode Season 3 chronicles the race and paddock drama from the first Grand Prix in Austria to the final Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Arguably, the best episode of the Season is the ninth one which ironically happens to be the longest at 51 minutes.
Man on Fire
Episode 9 covers the action over the course of two races on consecutive weekends in the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. Team Haas has already decided to not renew the contract of both its drivers for the 2021 season. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are dejected that their Formula One career might be coming to an end. The first race is the Bahrain Grand Prix. Grosjean loses control of his car and rams it into the fence, breaking the car into two. Soon, a huge ball of fire engulfs the battered vehicle with Grosjean stuck inside.
For close to three minutes there is no trace of him, making everyone fall silent. The tension across the faces of fellow drivers, the pin-drop silence in every paddock, and the subdued voices of the team principals, manage to transmit a palpable feeling of dread. Miraculously, Grosjean gets out of the car and jumps over the fence to come out alive. With minor burns on his hands and feet, he gets a fresh lease of life.
The Fight for Survival
Sergio Perez of the Racing Point team has been one of the best drivers of the 2020 season. But there is a problem. The team has signed four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season as his contract with Ferrari ends in 2020. The other driver by default remains Lance Stroll whose father Lawrence Stroll is the part-owner of Racing Point. Despite easily outshining Lance Stroll, Sergio Perez will have to leave Racing Point at the end of the season. He is mentally prepared that his Formula One career is coming to an end and wants to give his best shot in the last few races. Meanwhile, the Red Bull team hasn’t been too pleased with the performance of their driver Alexander Albon in the season. There is tremendous pressure on him to keep his seat next season.
The penultimate race of the season, the Sakhir Grand Prix kicks off. Sergio Perez is pushed off the track in the initial lap and is placed at the last position. What follows from thereon is a jaw-dropping demonstration of skill, determination, and grit from the highly experienced Mexican driver. With the precision of an artist, he maneuvers and overtakes each car ahead of him and leaves the entire pack behind him to lead the race. Full marks to the Netflix team for heightening the drama during this dream-run from Perez and giving us one of the finest visual spectacles in sporting history. Perez wins his first-ever Grand Prix in Formula One and is visibly overwhelmed by the flood of emotions.
Sports are like life; it can be unfair at times. That’s why a commentator remarks at the beginning of Episode 9: “Sportspersons die twice. Once, when they lose their career, and the other is when they actually die.” But, there are moments in sports where one pulls out something so extraordinary that they become a force to be reckoned with. This is exactly what Sergio Perez managed to achieve through his out-of-the-world performance, bagging him the highly coveted seat of Red Bull for the 2021 season.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive S3E9 is an exhilarating experience that can charge anyone up and make them want to aggressively work towards their goals. The sound design is riveting as usual with the right mix of music – electronic, ethereal, tranquil, rock – underscored according to the mood of the sequences. The cinematography by Netflix’s team is superlative – employing aerial shots, POVs from inside the car, and some breathtaking slow-motion shots of cars racing against each other neck to neck. With one year to go for Season 4, the wait seems too long!
What’s your favorite docuseries of all time? Let us know in the comments!
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