The creators of Formula 1: Drive to Survive had to "walk down the middle" when producing the final episodes of season 4 covering the highly contentious 2021 season finale.


Season 4 is the most hotly-anticipated season of the smash-hit Netflix docuseries to date, mostly down to the sheer controversy generated by the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that saw Max Verstappen overtake Lewis Hamilton to claim the title.

Executive producers James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin told they wanted to portray both sides of the argument and are not anticipating a backlash to their version of events.

Martin said: "We were well positioned to deal with it and follow it. I was at home watching it – I wasn't in Abu Dhabi – but it was like a gift and a curse. This is amazing but oh my god we've only got four weeks to edit this episode. How the hell are we going to deal with this?"

"Our teams were there. We were with Red Bull and Mercedes. I think it just built up to this moment where whatever happened it was going to be dramatic. It's gone to the last race is, Max had this fantastic season, Lewis had this amazing comeback. It's clear that whatever the outcome, it was going to be an amazing finish but even with five laps to go it looked like Lewis had it in the bag and then it just erupted.

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"We've been at races before where that had happened, you think it's going to go one way and suddenly you're like: 'Hang on a minute. Actually, this person is going to win or that person's going to win'."

Gay-Rees added: "I'm really proud of the last couple of episodes because there's a lot to get through. You do feel like you're really on the inside of it. And it's unbelievably exciting, even if you know what happens. You do get much more context and obviously you're going inside Christian and Toto's heads almost. It's pretty hardcore."

Despite an increasingly tribal F1 fanbase, with visible hostility between rival fans under almost every official F1 social media post, the final episode of season 4 has been met with a broadly positive reception, regardless of which side fans lean on.

Both executive producers were keen to give a balanced account of events that transpired and believe that uproar was always on the cards regardless of who triumphed.

Martin said: "That's sport. If you're a Lewis fan, you think Lewis was hard done by. If you're a Max fan, you think Max deserved it. It's sport. You just have an emotional reaction to it and whoever would have won there would have been a backlash from Max fans, Lewis fans or whatever. It's certainly not unique to Formula 1."

Gay-Rees added: "In that last race, certain calls go Mercedes' way, obviously the big one went Red Bull's way but we just walk down the middle of it, try to have balance and just get both sides of the argument."

Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 4 arrives on Netflix Friday 11th March. Seasons 1 to 3 are available now on Netflix. If you’re looking for something to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Sport hub.


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