The fifth season of the Netflix megahit Drive to Survive released yesterday, marking the now-traditional final look at the previous Formula 1 season before the next season begins a week later. After not participating in the first season, Ferrari let the Netflix cameras follow the team around yet again this year. That means the show had its traditional brand of access throughout the team's disaster of a 2022, through every strategy mistake as Charles Lelerc's championship hopes slipped away.
The Ferrari-centered third episode, "Matter of Principal," starts following the team at the first-ever Miami Grand Prix. That means a lot of the screen time is dedicated to the absurd pageantry of the Miami International Autodrome, but it marks a great point to hop along for the ride with the Scuderia: it marks the first of what would be many catastrophic strategy errors for the team, each squandering a would-be win for expected championship contender Charles Leclerc.
While the clips of the race itself are no more revealing than the live broadcast, the shots of visibly disappointed members of Ferrari leadership tell a story of their own. It gets far worse at Monaco, where Drive to Survive shows only Leclerc entering the pit lane as his strategist requested only to be told not to pit too late. Leclerc explodes in expletives, and the win at his home race slips through his fingers laps later. More disappointed shots of Leclerc and Mattia Binotto. In a seated interview, Binotto says the team "remains focused" on their goals even as they make these mistakes.
An engine failure follows at Baku, a race Charles Leclerc was leading at the time. This time, producers cut in a quote from Christian Horner claiming that Red Bull "has to capitalize on their misfortune." Then footage from Canada, where Leclerc is once again given a questionable strategy directive and asked to stay out during a virtual safety car. Horner's goal is realized; Verstappen wins the race. Lecerc's once-massive championship lead has become a deficit.
The episode ends at Silverstone, where Leclerc is a victim of yet another pit lane decision that went in someone else's favor. This time, the twist is that the beneficiary is also a Ferrari driver. As the team splits their top two drivers on strategy, Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. goes on to win his first-ever grand prix. Here's where Drive to Survive's unparalleled access shines: as Sainz celebrates, the director cuts to a visibly crushed Charles Leclerc, consoled by Binotto. The team director then goes on to say in another seated interview that he stands by his decision to split the strategies, then claims that the Ferrari has no #1 driver and suggests he has an equal commitment to both Leclerc and Sainz despite external pressure.
Binotto was removed as Ferrari's top executive this past offseason. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. will continue as teammates in 2023, once again hoping to turn a winning car into a championship.
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