Max Verstappen has been outspoken about his thoughts on hit Netflix series Formula 1: Drive to Survive, and during Friday’s press conference, the Belgian-Dutch driver cited moments in the latest season that justify his reasons for not participating in it.
“For me personally, what I didn’t like and it’s not even about me, it was about Lando [Norris] and Daniel [Ricciardo], who I think are two great guys,” Verstappen said. “They’re really nice, first of all, and made it look like Lando was a bit of a d---, which he isn’t at all,” Verstappen said. “And again, you know, I think … I know Lando and I think many people know Lando as a funny guy, a great guy. He has a great character.
“And actually when you look at that episode, you really think who is this guy? What the hell is going on?”
During season four, a supposed rivalry between McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo played out on the screen, which was the foundation of the second episode.
The Netflix show has greatly helped build F1’s popularity in the United States, bringing in a wave of new fans across the world. According to Front Office Sports, the U.S. Grand Prix in Texas last season surpassed viewership and attendance records. There were 400,000 fans in attendance—the most of all 2021 F1 races and up from the 268,000 who attended in 2019, F1 told FOS.
Yet Verstappen is clearly still not on board with the way the show portrays his fellow drivers.
“You just immediately get a wrong picture of a person. And that's exactly what I think happened to me in the beginning,” Verstappen said. “And then I think I'm someone who, when you ruin it from the start, you don't fix it. That's it, you ruined it. So that's my stance. And that's how I'll go forward.”
Verstappen told the Associated Press in October that he would not be participating in the hit docuseries, adding that in past seasons he’s done interviews for the show and quotes were used for other situations and topics. The 24-year-old stood by his previous comments in an interview with BBC Sport ahead of the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, saying that the show was “faking rivalries.”
Verstappen, though, is not the only one who has been critical of the series. Teammate Sergio Perez previously said to ESPN the latest season had “probably gone too far” with dramatizing the previous F1 campaign.
“I really thought that they had the best season in Formula One [to work with] and I feel like they probably missed out a bit in the story and the way they presented it,” Perez said. “They tried to create too much drama, which the season already had—the season had enough drama, you know?
“They’ve probably gone too far in this last season. I thought it was going to be the best season, but to be totally honest I haven’t finished [watching] it.”
Drive to Survive provides a behind-the-scenes look at the circuit that uses the world as its playground, highlighting the action and providing context to storylines that emerge both on and off the course. There are harrowing moments (like Romain Grosjean’s fiery wreck that almost cost the Switzerland-born driver his life) and complicated decisions displayed (like Pierre Gasly getting sacked by Red Bull and bouncing back to win at Monza with AlphaTauri).
Verstappen revealed on Friday that he was surprised to see interviews he participated in featured on the latest season; however, he suggested they were not all from last season.
“I watched a few episodes of the last one and I was surprised I suddenly found myself talking in it. It's probably stuff from 2018 or something they picked up and used again about fighting and what I like to do,” Verstappen said. “That of course was not correct, I could already hear my voice was a bit different.
“And I realized also, actually, a lot of times I was saying stuff, and they were with this beam around, and they pick up a lot of stuff. So I have to be a bit more careful with that as well. It's just not my thing.”
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