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Williams 2019 testing woes the focus of Netflix Drive to Survive

February 27, 2020

Netflix ‘Drive to Survive’ season 1, released at the beginning of 2019, proved to be such an unmitigated success, bringing countless fans to the sport – especially in the US, which remains an untapped market for F1 and Liberty – that a second season was inevitable.

The series pitched two of Formula 1’s great 2019 rivalries against each other in each of its ten episodes, using otherwise unseen footage captured exclusively by Box to Box films, tasked by Netflix to make the documentary.

2018 was an underwhelming season for Williams, who’d slipped back from a middle-of-the-road fifth in the championship in 2017 to tenth and plum last the following year.

As such – despite the two main protagonists; Ferrari and Mercedes not wishing to be included in Drive to Survive – the filmmakers considered there to be more drama to be had elsewhere, focussing on the relationship between Red Bull and then engine suppliers Renault, Lawrence Stroll’s buyout of Force India and the progress of future Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, and so Williams’ screen time was limited.

Not so for season two, however, for as Williams Racing embarked on their most catastrophic opening to a Formula 1 season in history, the cameras – through luck or good judgement – were there with them, capturing the highs and lows (there were highs?!) of preparing for a Formula 1 season and all that entails.

Speaking to motorsport.com Claire Williams said:

“It allows us as a team to tell a version of events that we may not otherwise have had the opportunity to be able to show people…to really show the blood, sweat and tears, and the pain that really goes on behind a situation.”

“People can sometimes just see a situation and not truly understand it and make a judgement. I hope that our episode really shows the truth behind the scenes and how painful it was for all of us.”

For reasons that have never fully been explained, Williams missed the beginning of pre-season testing, resulting in CTO Paddy Lowe‘s departure from the team, setting the course for a miserable season that ended ten months later in Abu Dhabi with the team having won just a single point.

Given that the episode focuses around pre-season, it should come fairly early on in the series, and so those of us planning to binge watch the whole thing following its release at 8am tomorrow won’t have too long to wait to get a little more insight on what really happened.


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