Drive to Survive: 8 things to watch in season 5

Netflix ended weeks of speculation, announcing on Thursday that the fifth season of Drive to Survive would premier on the streaming service on February 24th. The first four seasons of the series pulled back the curtain on the world of Formula 1, introducing new fans of the sport to the personalities of F1, while giving established fans a closer look at their favorite drivers and teams.

The series is coming off one of its biggest seasons yet, as 4 million viewers tuned in last year to watch the series on its opening weekend, placing Drive to Survive in the streaming service’s top ten list on its opening week.

Whether Drive to Survive will match those numbers in Season 5 is an open question. Season 4 had the added benefit of covering the title race between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, which came down to the final lap of the season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and remains a flash point of controversy in the F1 world.

The 2022 F1 season, however, did not come down to the final lap of the year.

In anticipation of the next season of Drive to Survive, here are the six storylines to look forward to on Season 5.

More Max

Formula One: Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 2022

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While many fans — and F1 teams — have enjoyed the coverage provided by Drive to Survive, one of the sport’s biggest names has expressed a different viewpoint in the past. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, while still appearing in earlier seasons, outlined his frustration with the show last year, and stated that he would not participate in Season 5. “I’ll probably watch it and see how over the top it is, and just continue with my life,” said Verstappen last spring.

However, that seems to have changed. Following Verstappen’s comments, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali reportedly sat down with drivers about the series, and that may have changed Verstappen’s views. The Red Bull driver, and world champion, is featured in the trailer for Season 5:

A brief moment of happiness for Haas?

Formula One: Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 2022-Practice

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As Drive to Survive introduced new fans to the sport of F1, one of the early stars from the series has been Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner. While the racing team has struggled to find success on the track, Steiner has become a star off of it. Thanks to a blowup on the paddock during Season 2, the Haas Team Store now sells shirts with Steiner on them, and his exclamation “He does not foksmash my door!”

(Santa, I’m still waiting on mine).

However, an undercurrent of all the Haas coverage, along with Steiner’s star turn, has been their struggles. The team has found it difficult to gain a foothold in F1 over the past few seasons.

But the 2022 year did bring a bright spot for Haas, as Kevin Magnussen qualified on the pole for the sprint race at Interlagos. It was the first time both the driver, and the team, secured a pole position. After everything that Haas has been through the past few years, expect an episode dedicated to that first for the team.

Danke Seb

Formula One: Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 2022

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2022 marked the final F1 season for legendary driver Sebastian Vettel. Vettel won four-straight Drivers’ Championships from 2010 through 2013 with Red Bull, but his move to Ferrari for the 2014 coincided with the rise of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel fought to get back to the top during his time at Ferrari, but could not quite get back to the top of the F1 world. He left Ferrari for the 2021 season, joining Aston Martin. Then last July, Vettel announced that he would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

The end to a legendary career will certainly be a big part of the next season of Drive to Survive.

Mattia Binotto’s final season at Ferrari

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice 3

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Another big storyline during the next season of Drive to Survive will be the year we saw from Ferrari. The Scuderia started 2022 on a high note, and were in first place in the Constructors’ standings after the first few events of the season. But then missteps and blunders plagued the team during the middle stretch of the season, and instead of challenging Red Bull at the top of the table, they were fending off a late-season charge from Mercedes by year’s end.

The result? Team Principal Mattia Binotto handed in his resignation at the end of the season.

Mercedes’ troubles

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Final Practice

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Speaking of the Silver Arrows, Season 4 of Drive to Survive ended with a focus on Team Principal Toto Wolff. It is no secret that Wolff, and Mercedes, were furious with how the 2021 year ended, with Verstappen’s controversial victory at Abu Dhabi that earned him the Drivers’ Championship, and ended a run of four-straight championships from Lewis Hamilton.

The final moments of last season focused on Wolff, and his declaration that how that year ended would have Mercedes primed for a huge comeback in 2022.

That comeback came, but it came much too late in the year for Mercedes to mount a serious challenge to Red Bull. Early-season struggles with the physics and design of their car forced the team to adjust as the year wore on.

Getting a look at how the team adjusted and adapted, setting the stage for their late-season charge — and George Russell’s first-ever F1 win — will be fascinating to watch unfold

The cost cap fallout

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Final Practice

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In an effort to try and level the playing field, the FIA imposed a “cost cap” starting with the 2021 season. Similar to a salary cap in other sports, teams were limited in how much they could spend in certain categories, such as parts, personnel, and garage equipment.

Looming over nearly the entire 2022 season was the anticipated announcement of cost cap violations by teams during the 2021 year. Perhaps that was due to the continued fallout over the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but every week during the 2022 F1 season saw new rumors of “huge violations” by certain teams.

With most rumors focused squarely on Red Bull.

Eventually, the findings were released by FIA, and Red Bull was found to be in breach of the first cost cap. The team was hit with a fine, and will face testing restrictions during the 2022 season as a result.

The Oscar Piastri saga

Formula 1 Testing in Abu Dhabi - Day One

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Driver movement — or the “silly season” — is a huge part of F1. With only 20 seats to go around, the competition for those spots is enormous, and a huge underlying theme of the series.

It is named Drive to Survive for a reason, friends.

With that backdrop always in place, one story that will likely command some attention is the battle between Alpine and McLaren for Oscar Piastri’s services. Piastri is one of the racing world’s up-and-coming stars, and he won the F3 Championship in 2020, and the F2 Championship in 2021. As a member of Alpine’s driver academy, he served as a reserve driver for Alpine at the F1 level during 2022, but he also was made available to drive for McLaren in a reserve capacity due to an agreement between the two teams.

In June of 2022, however, reports surfaced that Piastri would drive for Williams in 2023, under a loan agreement with Alpine. At that time Alpine anticipated moving ahead with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon as their two drivers for another year. Later that summer, when Sebastian Vettel announced his retirement at the end of the season, Alonso made the decision to take his spot at Aston Martin for 2023, opening up his spot at Alpine.

As a result, Alpine announced that instead of driving for Williams, Piastri would slide into the now-vacant seat at Alpine. The announcement, however, seemed to be missing something.

Confirmation from the driver himself.

Perhaps there was a reason for that, because Piastri took to Twitter to make something clear:

The matter ended up before FIA’s Contract Recognition Board (CRB), and in September the CRB ruled that Piastri was not under contract with Alpine, and free to sign with a different team. Almost immediately Piastri signed with McLaren as a reserve driver, contingent on the team coming to terms on a contract termination with one of their current drivers, Daniel Ricciardo.

That agreement was reached, and Piastri will be behind the wheel for McLaren this coming season.

While we will not see him racing in this season of Drive to Survive, the series will likely dive into the controversy.

Life comes full circle for Daniel Ricciardo

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Speaking of Ricciardo.

The first season of Drive to Survive covered a number of different storylines, but Ricciardo was a big focus. It would end up being his final season with Red Bull, as the Australian made the decision to leave Red Bull and sign with Renault (now Alpine) for the 2019 campaign.

Since leaving Red Bull, Ricciardo’s F1 career has largely underwhelmed. He spent two years with Renault, with his best finish a third-place result in 2020 at the Eifel Grand Prix. Ricciardo then moved to McLaren for the 2021 season, and while he finally broke through with a win at Monza in the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, it would be his only win over two years at McLaren.

Now, as noted, he is out at McLaren, and is returning to Red Bull for the 2023 season.

In a reserve role.

Not only is his career coming somewhat full circle, so too might Drive to Survive.

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