Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturdays: Green With Envy

This is the first of a nine-article series in this column looking at this season in Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

The first episode, appropriately titled “Money Talks,” is a look at Aston Martin. It really is pretty incredible looking at where that team is now when the first season of Drive to Survive had an episode looking at the downfall of that team’s predecessor, Force India.

It has been a long road for everybody since that time, even though it was just six years ago. For both the team- now having a world class world champion in Fernando Alonso helping to kick things off in a world class party- and for Formula 1. There is no more real drive to survive anymore, as all of these teams are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

We got a tiny little hint from Lewis Hamilton in this episode of a larger theme of this season, with his comment “Our car still looks different from all the others” during the promotional shoot. He also mentioned near the end of the episode in an interview that Mercedes instead fell to the fourth fastest team instead of jumping up to challenge for the lead.

You definitely get the sense during the promotional shoot section of the episode, during in which Ferrari and Mercedes are highlighted, that there’s about to be a big fight between the two teams. And that’s almost exactly what happened both in reality and in the TV series.

Still, Aston Martin is the focus of the episode, and it was a good choice all-around just due to how fast the car was in pre-season testing. There was media picking them as the second best car on-track, only behind a seemingly invincible Red Bull.

In the episode, it seems to hint that Lance Stroll did not appear in the car until Saturday of that first weekend. In reality, Stroll had driven the day prior and had looked very rough with his wrists.

It was bad enough to where I was surprised at the time that Aston Martin did not stick reserve driver Felipe Drugovich in the car for one of the three practice sessions, just in case it was decided Stroll could not race. F1 rules require a driver to participate in one of them prior to qualifying or the race in order to be eligible for either.

Drugovich would have been the better option that weekend anyway, as he had tested the car the week prior anyway. But it makes sense for the Strolls not to take Lance out of the car because, well, what would happen next would be almost exactly what we’re seeing now with Oliver Bearman.

People would be asking a lot of questions on why Stroll is even driving the racecar if Lance came back afterwards and performed below Drugovich. F1 is also a sport that evolves very quickly. As Alpine has found out this season, it’s very easy to drop down the running order. One less start while Aston Martin was at the top of the midfield was one less opportunity.

Lawrence Stroll was such a huge highlight of this episode. Mr. Stroll absolutely seems like somebody who is used to having his way and that money is simply a piece of paper used to get there. Something he has a near infinite amount of.

But, at the same time, you can tell Mr. Stroll, as ruthless as he may be, does have a soft spot for his son. I doubt Lawrence’s concern for his son wasn’t genuine, nor his joy in seeing him succeed.

I asked Frontstretch‘s resident documentary/movie expert Adam Cheek to come along with me for this ride and to comment on each of these episodes. Here’s what he sent me:

“I should first note that this is the first season of Drive to Survive that I’ve watched. I’m not proud of that fact, but what immediately struck me is just how good this show looks in terms of the production and cinematography.

“We get a look into the uncertainty around Aston Martin after Stroll breaks both of his wrists and, though he ultimately made it back for the start of the season, it’s a look into the father-son, owner-driver dynamic that balances both Lawrence’s concern for his kin and both of their concerns for the team.

“Also, Guenther Steiner saying “Hello, fish. Can you bite, please?” is an immediate highlight.”

Next up- Netflix’s prodigal son will return. Daniel Ricciardo and his rise back to a race seat will be the focus of episode two, plus Nyck de Vries is also there! Remember him? He was a thing in F1 too.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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