Formula 1 is in “advanced discussions” with the team behind the hugely popular Netflix programme Drive to Survive over plans for a third series involving the delayed 2020 season.
Cameras for Drive to Survive have been capturing behind-the-scenes footage of the F1 paddock since 2018 – including at pre-season testing last year.
The second series of the show – which told the story of the 2019 season over the course of eight episodes – made its debut in the UK at the end of February and was well-received by fans, giving unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to teams during major talking points like the Haas/Rich Energy saga and Mercedes’ disastrous anniversary race at Hockenheim.
Though no official announcement had been made going into the year, a third series focused on 2020 was expected to be a formality before the coronavirus pandemic hit and forced the postponement of the season start.
In an update call with investors this week, F1 chief Chase Carey said Liberty Media was “pleased with the response” to the second Drive to Survive season and highlighted its coverage of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly/Alex Albon driver swap, the chaotic German Grand Prix and Williams’s troubled 2019 as standouts.
He also indicated that filming for the next series was still intended to take place this year despite the current crisis and the limitations that will affect F1 when it is able to go racing.
“There are advanced discussions for season three and the team is ready to capture footage in 2020,” said Carey.
It is unknown how Drive to Survive will address the delay to the season bought about by the coronavirus pandemic and the chaotic build-up to the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, or how the personnel required to film it will be factored into whatever restrictions F1 has to work around once grands prix resume.
The season is now expected to begin in Austria in July with two races a week apart at the Red Bull Ring.
F1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn recently talked of creating a “biosphere” around personnel involved in making the initial grands prix happen, while Carey indicated that spectators were unlikely to be allowed at races in Europe this year.
Virtual GP to continue until season start
F1 has joined many other motorsport championships in offering an esports series amid the delay to the season, with its Virtual Grand Prix series taking place on the same Sunday as scheduled grands prix and the grid featuring current drivers, simracers and celebrity guest entries.
Carey said that the Virtual GP broadcasts have so far reached up 16.3 million people and will continue for as long as it takes to return to real-world racing.
“With the postponement of the season, we were pleased that our teams quickly pivoted and launched a new Formula 1 esports Virtual Grand Prix Series featuring a number of current Formula 1 drivers and celebrities,” said Carey.
“The races provide a great racing and entertainment value with lively commentary, Charles Leclerc won his debut race after receiving the game just three weeks earlier, then he won the next race as well and we’re excited to see new rivalries emerge.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 3, 2020
“We’ve experienced strong engagement. Through the first three races digital cumulative views reach 12.9 million in total viewership – including TV estimates reached 16.3 million. The Virtual GP even trended number one on YouTube.
“We will continue with these virtual GPs until we return to racing.”