Race to Perfection director teases untold stories and unseen footage

Andrew de Souza told RadioTimes.com that "stories you hadn’t heard and footage you hadn’t seen" was always the key to the series.

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Formula One fans are in for a treat this weekend – with new documentary series Race to Perfection airing on Sky One and delving deep into the sport’s 70 year history across seven themed episodes.

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As well as covering many of the most significant and well-known moments from the sport, director Andrew de Souza has teased that there’s plenty of material that will be brand new to fans.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, De Souza said, “We thought the seven episodes would give us the breadth to talk to a variety of people and to hear stories that you might not have heard before.

“That was always the key – stories you hadn’t heard and footage you hadn’t seen.”

And there was certainly no shortage of footage to choose from – de Souza said he combed through hours of archival footage, going all the way back to the ’50s, often finding short clips that he felt breathed new life into the sport.

One such example is footage from the tragic 1994 weekend in San Marino, where the lives of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were both lost, showing the pair’s own reactions to crashes earlier in the weekend including that of  Ruben Barrichello.

“Because they’ve not really been seen before they look fresh and new and almost like you’re watching them in HD, you look at it and go wow! I’ve never seen that shot before,” he said.

As well as archival footage, the series also contains interviews with some of the most famous faces in F1.

And although some of those which had been planned had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, including chats with Nigel Mansell and Jacques Villeneuve, de Souza said there were enough interviews for more than a single series.

“What we found talking to these people is that we go in looking for a five minute story on this race and they sit down and talk and talk and talk,” he said. “And they’d be really comfortable and they’re under no time constraints.”

He went on to give some examples of interviewees who were more than willing to spend hours telling their own histories in the sport – including Ron Dennis, the former owner, chairman and CEO of McLaren Group.

“Ron Dennis, who hasn’t been seen too much since he left McLaren at the end of 2017, was brilliant,” he said. “We explained what we were going to do and he gave us four and a half hours of his time, he talked and talked and talked and he gave us so much insight – we were just wowed.”

De Souza further explained that in addition to containing lots of brand new material, it was essential that he approached the docuseries from a storytelling perspective, ensuring that it was first and foremost about entertainment.

We made these episodes quite entertaining as opposed to having too much technical stuff,” he said. “There is some technical stuff in there but we didn’t want to get too bogged down in that. We thought about what’s interesting about the people and the things they went through and focused on that.”

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Race to Perfection debuts on 12th September on Sky One and NOW TV – in addition to F1TV  – with all episodes available to watch live or on demand. Find out what else to watch with our TV Guide