Formula 1: Drive to Survive – A Nice 2018 Season Recap

Rating (2.5 out of 5)

Summary: I have attended two F1 races, I play the F1 video game, and watch the races religiously. While I enjoyed aspects of the behind the scenes view, the issues underlying the sport aren’t explained sufficiently for a casual viewer to understand fully the challenges the teams face. “Formula 1” became a nice recap of the 2018 season for those who may be interested in viewing races for the 2019 season, which started last week.

Plot: Follows 8 of the 10 Formula 1 teams during the 2018 season, the 10 episode documentary explores the issues of the drivers and team directors.

Detail: The series focuses on the drivers. The 2018 season provided a hearty dose of drama with almost 1/2 the drivers changing teams. The show explains aspects of the changes, but focused on the emotional aspect, instead of providing context to the viewer on the complexities. For example, the show didn’t provide an explanation of the amount of money involved in the sport, and how much the top drivers are paid.

My wife and I debated whether people wanted to dive deeper into the issues. Our assumption is if you are watching “Formula 1”, you are an F1 fan already. If the anticipated viewer was an F1 fan, they could have delved deeper. For example, they didn’t provide context that 4 of the top 20 paid athletes in the world, F1 drivers ( Additionally, the documentary doesn’t demonstrate the pay difference between the drivers.

2019 Formula 1 Drivers Salaries:

Lewis HamiltonMercedes$57,000,000
Sebastian VettelFerrari$45,000,000
Daniel RicciardoRenault$17,000,000
Max VerstappenRed Bull$13,500,000
Valtteri BottasMercedes$8,500,000
Kimi RaikkonenSauber$4,500,000
Nico HulkenbergRenault$4,500,000
Carlos SainzMcLaren$4,000,000
Charles LeclercFerrari$3,500,000
Sergio PerezRacing Point$3,500,000
Romain GrosjeanHaas$1,800,000
Pierre GaslyRed Bull$1,400,000
Lance StrollRacing Point$1,200,000
Kevin MagnussenHaas$1,200,000
Robert KubicaWilliams$570,000
Daniil KvyatToro Rosso$300,000
Lando NorrisMcLaren$260,000
Antonio GiovinazziSauber$230,000
George RussellWilliams$180,000
Alexander AlbonToro Rosso$170,000

Data from

The spread in salaries amazes me and explains why the drivers dedicate themselves and apply tremendous effort to become the best. How do you create competition in a sport where they spread in pay is this far apart? They also didn’t include anything about the differential between team earnings.

The footage of team directors preparing to enter a TV conference isn’t typically televised and the directors’ interactions were priceless. Horner and Abiteboul were not on speaking terms and were snippy with each other. Grown kids. Awesome footage, and relates the story of the bitterness at the end of the season between the two organizations.

Also, some of the insight to the drivers who aren’t the main focus on race Sundays pleasantly surprised me. My wife is still rooting for Ocon to secure a ride in 2020. The directors did a good job of creating an emotional appeal to the drivers. Surprisingly, my wife is also rooting for Ricciardo to lose this year.